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Roger Federer is a God

When I was a kid, my dad introduced me to tennis.  He took me to see Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall, the best players of the time.  In his day and for quite some time after, Laver was considered the greatest to have ever played the sport with Rosewall a close runner up.

Later, I got hooked on tennis again when Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl were the kings of the court.  They were all fantastic tennis players, but unlike watching Laver, none of the new leaders of tennis seemed like they were the one.  Then, of course, came Pete Sampras.  With 64 career titles, 14 of them being Grand Slam wins, he was the one.  He made the game seem easy with graceful moves and unreal court presence.  His game was a thing of beauty and a blast to watch.  Andre Agassi, a great tennis player, was always a thorn in Sampras’ side and perhaps even made him better.  But it was Sampras who was the best most often at the end of the match. 

Sampras ruled over his tennis kingdom for some time, long enough to convince the tennis experts and those of us who are mere onlookers that he was, in fact, greater than the great Rod Laver.  We had a new best.  Like with us all, though, he eventually got a little older and a little slower and had trouble keeping his place on top of the pyramid. 

As Sampras’ rule at the top of the heap waned, Roger Federer became the new king.  In a world with many good tennis players (Nadal, Blake, Roddick, Hewitt and a boatload of guys from Slavic countries to name a few), Federer has handily remained in the number one position in tennis for more time than anyone in history.

This year, at the just completed US Open, he showed why.  Federer was always composed and always in command.  That’s not to say that he was always in the lead.  Even when his serve was broken, though, he would patiently break back to get even, then either break his opponent again or dominate the tie-breaker.  At times, he did this without seeming to break a sweat.  He covers the court unbelievably well, rarely makes unforced errors and is always menacing to his opponents (earning him the moniker, Darth Federer).

When he played the hard hitting Andy Roddick in the semifinals, I watched in disbelief as Roddick, playing the best tennis of his life and having a serve and forehand like a cannon, lost to the tennis god, Federer, in three straight sets.  In the finals, Novak Djokovic had Federer down a break with three set points in the first set and then succumbed to Federer in a tie-breaker.  In the second set, he broke Federer early and looked very strong, only to lose the set to Federer again in another tie-breaker.  Federer won the third set 6-4 for his fourth straight US Open victory and 12th Grand Slam win.

As with Tiger Woods’ dominance in golf, Federer has so many weapons in his arsenal that he’s almost impossible to beat.  Even when he’s down, he has the skills, stamina and mental toughness to come back and win . . . convincingly.  As if there could have been any doubt before, we are certainly watching the new greatest tennis player of all time rising to his zenith.

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 September 10th, 2007  
 Will  
 Sports  
   
 6 Comments

6 Responses to Roger Federer is a God

  1. Will- being of the same generation, I am also ashamed to say I remember the Rod Laver, Rosewell and Arther Ashe era well. And don’t forget the woman of era, who were also great. Then like you, Conners, Bjorg, Lendl and Mac. I remember thinking back then, how much bigger, stronger and faster these guys were compared to gentile Laver, et al. I also thought it was technology in the rackets and stuff. I saw the Pete-Andre era, actually seeing the play live at the Open one year (fantastic match). They also seemed faster then the era before. This year watching the Roddick-Federer match convinced me that this era of player could eat the lunch of their predecessors. The speed and power displayed is just plain scary. Is it that tennis attracts better athletes now? Is it better training? technology? better living through chemistry? I don’t know, but imagine what the next generation/era will look like!

  2. Will- being of the same generation, I am also ashamed to say I remember the Rod Laver, Rosewell and Arther Ashe era well. And don’t forget the woman of era, who were also great. Then like you, Conners, Bjorg, Lendl and Mac. I remember thinking back then, how much bigger, stronger and faster these guys were compared to gentile Laver, et al. I also thought it was technology in the rackets and stuff. I saw the Pete-Andre era, actually seeing the play live at the Open one year (fantastic match). They also seemed faster then the era before. This year watching the Roddick-Federer match convinced me that this era of player could eat the lunch of their predecessors. The speed and power displayed is just plain scary. Is it that tennis attracts better athletes now? Is it better training? technology? better living through chemistry? I don’t know, but imagine what the next generation/era will look like!

  3. Alan,

    I have to imagine that the current generation is better for ALL the reasons you mentioned. Of course, it’s true in all sports – this generation is better than any before it. I think we underestimate the difference that the advances in understanding sports physiology and nutrition in the last 20 years have made.

    Doh! I can’t believe I forgot Arthur Ashe. Although he mostly played in the time between Laver and Sampras when I lost interest in tennis.

    I purposely left out the woman, although the strides have been similar, of course. Although it would be interesting to see Martina in her prime playing Venus or Serena. It might not be such a slam-dunk for the current hard-hitting, speed demons.

  4. Alan,

    I have to imagine that the current generation is better for ALL the reasons you mentioned. Of course, it’s true in all sports – this generation is better than any before it. I think we underestimate the difference that the advances in understanding sports physiology and nutrition in the last 20 years have made.

    Doh! I can’t believe I forgot Arthur Ashe. Although he mostly played in the time between Laver and Sampras when I lost interest in tennis.

    I purposely left out the woman, although the strides have been similar, of course. Although it would be interesting to see Martina in her prime playing Venus or Serena. It might not be such a slam-dunk for the current hard-hitting, speed demons.

  5. Actually in the final as well as the semi-final Federer made quite a few unforced errors, and it wasn’t just the wind, he was dumping a lot of balls into the net and his first serve percent hovered around 50. You could see the difference in the 2nd set tiebreak, when his serve was suddenly on and he was hitting those freaky shots only Federer can hit, and suddenly Djokovic had no chance (7-2). Roger won the U.S. Open in straight sets and was NOT playing his best tennis.

    Did you notice, by the way, that he had (at least) three challenges that overturned calls in the final? Most players seem to be challenging when they’re PISSED, not when they’re SURE.

    I didn’t watch tennis way back when but it has been fun following Roger dominating the sport.

  6. Actually in the final as well as the semi-final Federer made quite a few unforced errors, and it wasn’t just the wind, he was dumping a lot of balls into the net and his first serve percent hovered around 50. You could see the difference in the 2nd set tiebreak, when his serve was suddenly on and he was hitting those freaky shots only Federer can hit, and suddenly Djokovic had no chance (7-2). Roger won the U.S. Open in straight sets and was NOT playing his best tennis.

    Did you notice, by the way, that he had (at least) three challenges that overturned calls in the final? Most players seem to be challenging when they’re PISSED, not when they’re SURE.

    I didn’t watch tennis way back when but it has been fun following Roger dominating the sport.

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