After Anil Kumble, Roger Federer is the other sportsperson I have come to admire over the years. Hence I was extremely sad when that muscleman Rafa went on dismantling the Fedex Phenomenon over the past thirteen months. Though Rafael Nadal is a very nice chap and is a Champion in his own rights, Roger for me is the most favorite Tennis player of all times. I grew up on John McEnroe and Conners. I really loved the Edberg and Becker rivalry. Agassi and Sampras were great too. But Federer is some kind of a Gentleman and a Champion and I am fond of those species!
I hated it when Roger lost his Wimbledon crown in 2008. But I always believed it was due to the fatigue caused by Infectious Mononucleosis. When he won the US Open I said: I told you so! But when Rafa beat him to pulp at the Australian Open this year, even I felt Roger was going down. Time and tide wait for none and Federer is not an exception!
2008 was very ordinary for Federer and he for the first time in living memory, looked Ordinary! But even then, what is special about Roger is; he still was making it to the finals of all the four majors. How many of those Champions have done it so consistently before Roger? None! That is what makes him special!
When he broke down after the Australian Open Final Loss, even the winner Rafa felt bad. But we had a lot of those Specialist Sports Writers out there writing Epitaphs of a Champion. This hurt me as much as it must have hurt Roger. But Roger Federer is not an ordinary mortal. Not many have beaten him in a a Grand slam Final except for a man called Rafael Nadal. His below par record against one or two players of his times were blown up by critics to question his credentials as one of the All Time Greats!
Yesterday we again saw Federer break down. But this time, it was a spectacle that didn't make those who love him sad. I put on hold everything last night to stay put in front of my TV because I had a strong feeling Federer will win it finally. With Rafa out of the way, I really felt he will do it this time. So now he is on par with Sampras at 14 Grand slams. He might reach 15 at the Wimbledon this year and even 16 at the US Open. The way he has played during this fortnight, he certainly looks like the Federer we have always known. Long live the King of Tennis of our Era, perhaps of all the Eras!