Righto Roger!

On the eve of US Open Tennis finals, a week ago, a schoolmate settled in USA asked in our WhatsApp group who all are going to watch the finals between Alcaraz and Rudd. Naga in his inimitable style replied immediately, “இந்திய நேரப்படி இரவு 1.30 மணிக்கு ஆரம்பித்தால் பார்ப்பதற்கு பெடெர்ரா ஆடுகிறான்” meaning “the match is starting at 1.30 AM Indian Standard Time. To be awake and watch the match, is Federer playing?” That, in essence, sums up the feeling of millions of fans of Federer. There are great players in Tennis and there is Federer. 

Two of the greatest players to have played Tennis have retired in a span of two weeks. Serena Williams and Roger Federer. I dare say both Men and Women Tennis will never be same again.

For all the adulation we have showered on Federer, he has actually started on a wrong foot by beating our previous hero Pete Sampras in the 4th round of Wimbledon 2001. Since then, for over twenty odd years, he has entertained us like no has done before. But is he the GOAT?

Pete Fedex

2001 Round 4 Wimbledon. Passing on the baton if ever there was one.

The GOAT cannot be measured just by statistics nor by fans adulation alone. Even with the greatest batsman Cricket has seen, Sir Donald Bradman, we have comments and questions. A casual glance at his record would show that he was miles ahead of his contemporaries. But we say, he has played only against few opponents. He has not played across many formats. How would he have fared against a Shane Warne or Muthiah Muralitharan. So, picking Tendulkar over Lara becomes more difficult whose test records are closer. The same is the case with Muhammed Ali who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee who is one of the greatest champions to get into a ring.

I read an article in Indian Express today where the author says, people who have played Tennis consider Federer to be the greatest because only they understand how difficult it is to move across the court for long period of time and Federer did this at another level. You need not have played the game to understand that Federer played the game like no one did before. He ran, he moved he glided, and he skated across the court to get to the Tennis ball. Not just that, he then played an audacious shot which became a winner leaving not only the spectators but the opponent as well – spellbound. He was swift and he was full of grace. The dictionary says grace means smoothness and elegance of movement. I am not sure if the word defines Federer, or he defines the word.

Coming back to GOAT, my neighbour’s daughter all of seven years, told Rachna the other day that Messi is the GOAT in football. She was being brainwashed by her cousin just two months elder to her. She said Messi is a better player than Ronaldo (Cristiano). When Rachna questioned her how did she come to this conclusion, she asked Rachna to Google ‘who is the better player?’ I told her neither of them. Ronaldo (Nazário) of Brazil is head and shoulders above as he had won Two World Cups 1994 and 2002 and put Brazil in final 1998. She shot back saying Messi has won seven Ballon d’Or, more than anyone else. Ronaldo has two. 

GOAT is debatable. But who has entertained us the longest period of time in Tennis with most astonishing skills? There is only one answer – Roger Federer.

If he started well, we would say he would win the match. If started poorly, we would say he is just warming up and he would win. If he lost the first two sets and down by two games to zero in the third set, we would still say he would come back to win. And mostly he did. He never doubted his ability to play his best in any match and we never doubted his ability to win a match from any situation.

My most favourite player in Tennis is Pete Sampras, a small fraction over Federer. It is not because he played better but he was a server and volleyer the most beautiful spectacle in Tennis. Roger played some serve and volley in his initial days in Wimbledon, but he never was a compulsive Serve and Volleyer like Stefan Edberg or Boris Becker or for that matter the GOAT Martina Navratilova. But even with Pete Sampras, there was this 1994 final in Wimbledon, when he played against Goran Ivanisevic, I rooted for Goran as I thought he is not going to get another chance to win Wimbledon. Not with Federer though, every game I watched him play, I wanted him to win and win big. And I prayed for his win with millions of others who were watching him play.

A Tennis GOAT should play single handed backhand just like McEnroe and Pete Sampras. In the last two decades amongst the top players, Roger did. So that settles the GOAT in Tennis for me.

We, in the family, always thought we would catch Federer in action (in person) somehow somewhere. But only Mohan, my brother and Rachna, my daughter did. After three unsuccessful attempts, Mohan got to see him in action in Round three or four in Wimbledon 2018. Rachna was luckier. She saw him on the first day in court in US Open 2019 playing against Sumit Nagal. Incidentally Nagal won the first set. Adarsh tried his best without luck. So, we all have to live with this ‘I have seen Federer play in a grand slam’ comment from Mohan and Rachna for the rest of our lives now.

Moh Rach

Federer has visited India a few times first during the aftermath of 2004 Tsunami. As an ambassador of UNICEF, he visited some of the worst affected cities in Tamil Nadu and on other occasions to play some Tennis. I am sure there will be few thousands waiting in line to see him when he visits India next time.

To most of in India and for many across the world, Sachin Tendulkar personified the game of cricket. Yes, there were great players who played the game with him during the time. But he managed to stand alone in our minds. Not just his cricketing skills, his impeccable behaviour in the court and off it, made him the darling of people in India. Federer with his grace in court and through his smile and his conduct off the court made him the GOAT of Tennis to millions.

In August 2009 I was going through a ten-day Vipassana meditation course without access to Newspaper or smart phone. After 10 days of silence without access to any form of news from family and friends, the first thing I checked was how Federer was doing in the US open. He had lost in fourth round. That’s the way he has kept us spellbound all these years by his sheer magic.

As I said there are great Tennis players and there is Federer. There are no equals and there never will be.

Fairwell dear Federer.

7 thoughts on “Righto Roger!

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  1. It is impossible to write about a legend in few pages . It is such an emotional thing that Wimbledon will never be same again atleast for 10 years

    You have done a great job of touching few important things about Roger

    Thank you Ramesh . Amazing you could pull this in less than 24 hours

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  2. It is impossible to write about a legend in few pages . It is such an emotional thing that Wimbledon will never be same again atleast for 10 years

    You have done a great job of touching few important things about Roger

    Thank you Ramesh . Amazing you could pull this in less than 24 hours

    Like

  3. Superb blog Ramesh. I am not able to think of a point you should have added or omitted. What a great champ Roger is. I am also not lucky to watch him play live. There are tons of shots that is etched in one’s memory even without being there on the arena. We will truly miss him and struggle to quickly find another champ to cheer for.

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  4. Well writen!!! I just love this guy – for me he is the best from all sides, as a player, as a person and he is a total gentelman. For me is the the GOAT, for some he may be OOT GOAT (One of the GOAT) – Lovely tribute

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  5. உனது 60 வது பிறந்தநாள் அன்று ஃபெடரர் ரிடையர்ட் அறிவித்தது உங்கள் இருவருக்கும் ஏதோ பூர்வஜென்ம தொடர்புள்ளது 😁

    அவனை விட சிறந்த வீரர்கள் வரலாம்,ஆனால் நமக்கு ஃபெடர்ரை பிடித்தது போல் மற்றவர்களை பிடிக்குமா என்பது சந்தேகமே

    தன் விளையாட்டின் உச்சத்தில் இருந்த போது ஃபெடரர் விளையாடிதை போன்று வேறு யாரும் விளையாடியதை நான் பார்த்ததில்லை,எடுத்துக்காட்டு 2007 ஆஸ்திரேலிய ஓபன் செமி பைனலில் ஆண்டி ரோடிக்கிற்கு எதிராக ஆடியது,அதில் ஃபெடரர் ஒரு தவறு கூட செய்யாமல் அற்புதமாக விளையாடி இருப்பான்

    தொடர்ந்து மக்களின் பிரியமான வீரனாக இருந்தது வேறு எவருக்கும் அமையாதது,அந்த அளவிற்கு அவனின் நடவடிக்கைகள் இருந்தது

    மூன்று முறை தொடர்ந்து US ஓபன் சேம்பியனாக இருந்த இவான் லெண்டிலை சாம்ப்ராஸ் ஜெயித்து நம் கவனத்தை ஈர்த்தது போல் ஃபெடரர் சாம்பிராஸை ஜெயித்து நம் கவனத்தை அவன் பக்கம் திருப்பியதை சமீப காலம் வரை தக்கவைத்தது பெரிய நீண்ட சாதனை தான்

    2018 ல் ஆஸ்திரேலிய ஓபன் ஜெயித்து ரிடையர்ட் ஆகி இருக்க வேண்டியவனை இவ்வளவு கால் ஆட வைத்தது நடாலும்,ஜோகோவும் தான் 😁

    ஒரு கையில் பேக் ஹாண்ட் விளையாடியது தான் நடாலிடம் அதிக முறை தோற்றதிற்கும் காரணமாக அமைந்தது,ஃபெடரரின் இடது புறம் மார்பளவிற்கு நடால் போட்ட சர்வீஸ்களை மெதுவாக தான் திருப்ப முடிந்ததை நடால் நன்றாக பயன்படுத்தி அதிகமுறை வென்றான்,அது ஒரு குறை தான்

    ஃபெடரர் ரிடையர்ட் ஆன செய்தியை சம்பத்தின் போஸ்டிங் மூலம் அறிந்த உடன் உனது ப்ளாக்கை எதிர்பார்த்தேன்,ஏமாற்றவில்லை உடனே வந்தவிட்டது 😁

    நடால்,ஜோகோவிச் இவனை வென்றாலும்,ஃபெடரர் தோற்றதற்கு அவர்களே வருத்தப்படும் மாதிரி அவர்களிடம் நட்பு இருந்ததும் சிறப்பு

    சச்சின் ஓய்வை தாங்கிக் கொண்டது போல் இவன் ஓய்வையும் தாங்கிக் கொள்ள வேண்டியது தான்,ஆனால் இனி வேறொறுவன் மீது இம்மாதிரி ஈர்ப்பு நமக்கு வருமா என்பது சந்தேகமே

    அருமையான உனது ப்ளாக்கிற்கு பாராட்டுகள் ரமேஷ் 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

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  6. So well articulated.. He had his own charm.. will take lot for someone else to take the place.. have rarely missed his matches.. be it mid night or early morning.. during any exams or even after delivery.. the excitement and nervousness.. was just like our own victory.. to hold that place in millions of ppls heart is phenomenal.. in true sense GOAT.. from first salary I had started saving money so can travel to Aus to watch him in GS, closest to India so most economical.. never had that dream to see anyone else live, in person.. that much impact he had on loads of ppl.. luckily I could see his last GS win in Australia.. was like dream come true… will miss his games forever..

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  7. Superb Write up ! Ramesh . 👌👌👌

    Federer the great always in Tennis ! He has got a separate place n every one’s heart !

    Federer is my all time Hero !

    Yes . as many of you written it’s my dream to see Federer but couldn’t but am sure now I will catch him up somewhere in future .

    Keep writing Blogs !!

    Like

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