Roger Federer: The Man Who Defied Gravity

Mahesh S BharadvajContributor IJuly 6, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 30:  Roger Federer of Switzerland waves as he exits after losing his Quarter Final match against Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic on Day Nine of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 30, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

It seems to be that part of the year when lots of things are being said about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. I do not want to add to the din as I have stayed away from writing for a while now.

I must confess, however, that I felt a strong need to put this picture in perspective, especially when the vast majority of people are vulnerable to feeling the weight of recent events and have a disproportionate view of its size and importance.

Federer came to define tennis and continues to define tennis for most of the tennis world and of course his many fans. Federer was the best ambassador the sport could have asked for and remains so to date thanks to what he does and does not do both on and off the court.

In comparison with other legends in tennis, as well as golf and other sports, Federer has much to be praised for—be it his integrity and dignity in his personal life or his finesse on the court.

For a man who had dominated the game for nearly seven years, he has earned the right to lose a grand slam before the semifinals without that affecting in anyway his past accomplishments. It defies reasoning that Federer is being talked about as if he shrunk in size. His tennis prowess is getting questioned as if he is playing the wrong sport.

It must be remembered that apart from his haul of grand slams, Federer has played in the most grand slam finals in history and nobody is likely to reach anywhere near that in immediate years.

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Some months back, when Federer won the Australian Open and Nadal lost to Andy Murray, nobody was writing down Nadal or questioning his prowess as a champion player. When Federer loses Wimbledon after a phenomenal seven year consecutive finals, instead of marveling at him for sustaining a streak that may never be repeated in history, questions are being asked about whether Federer is as good a player.

The world of tennis admirers and watchers need to have a more balanced view and give the champ his due. I would be surprised if another player ever dominates this sport as much as Federer dominated for much of the last decade. It does not matter whether Federer comes back in form or fades away.

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