By Anjora Sarangi:
With 16 grand slams in his bag, 67 career titles, a career grand slam, unprecedented 23 grand slam finals and a record 237 weeks of consecutive ATP number one status, Roger Federer is undoubtedly a master of tennis and a gleaming phenomenon already at the age of 30. But though his exceptional talents have led him to spiraling victories one after the other over a short span of time, his long standing reign seems to be gradually coming to an end much to the sorrow of his millions of faithful fans across the world.
Born in 1981, the current Swiss maestro had already become a pro at tennis at the age of 17. Unlike other tennis prodigies, he has also actively played other sports such as badminton and basketball at a young age. He mentions that they helped him in eye hand coordination, proper footwork, creative use of hand and wrist and aided him become a better tennis player. He learnt how to construct points and control spaces through the game of chess. Tennis was a passion in the Federer home though none of the other family members had any special aptitude for it. Nevertheless it was enjoyed by all.
Roger’s first coach Carter who trained him from the age of 10 to 14 has had a lasting and enormous impact on his game. He taught Roger flawless technique on his ground strokes and serve, and watched him grow into his body and start dominating opponents. Soon Federer rose to the world’s top junior ranking. It was then that a former ATP player from Sweden — Peter Lundgren joined him to refine his technique and trained him to develop self control on court. Soon Roger was clinching several junior titles including the Wimbledon. By the end of 1999, he was the youngest member of the ATP Tour’s Top 100. As Switzerland’s best player, Roger Federer had arrived in international tennis circles.
The best had yet to come. In 2001, Federer saw his first grand moment with the defeat of the great Pete Sampras who was on a 31 match winning streak. By the end of the year, he had achieved an ATP ranking of 13 winning records on hard courts, grass, clay and carpet, an incredible feat.
In 2003, Federer won his first Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon, beating Mark Philippoussis in straight sets. Subsequently, he won the Australian Open against Safin and then the Wimbledon again as well as the US open. There was no stopping him. The newspapers had already started rolling with ‘Federer Express’ headlines across the world. In 2004, he rose to being ranked no. 1 in the Australian tour for the first time. He had become the King of grass and a favourite at the Rolland Garros. He had become invincible, overpowering every player who came into his way with artistic and strategic moves. His glory continued for a few years and it was only in 2006, that there emerged a new star to counter even Federer i.e. Rafael Nadal. He beat Federer in the French Open and soon came to be known as the master of clay and ranked no. 2 though a several thousand points behind Federer.
By 2007, the tables began to turn. Federer lost to Nadal in a few matches that year. Federer’s flawless form had begun to falter. In 2008, Nadal trumped Federer to become the world no. 1. Though he became the 6th player in the world to complete a grand slam in 2009, the victory had come after immense hardship and the sun had started to set on his stunning career. The abysmally low point arrived in 2010 when he lost the Wimbledon quarter finals and sank to No. 3 rank behind Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Though his days in tennis now seem to be numbered, Federer’s swift movement, effortless and powerful play, gentlemanly behavior, beautiful serve, volleying skills and perfected craft are yet unmatched and a delight to watch and experience. As an ardent fan like many others, I hope his weaknesses do not overpower his magnificent play in the coming few years and allow us starved admirers to feast our eyes on this wonderful player in the matches to come.