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Roger Federer : The Champion’s Way Back

Essay by   •  February 7, 2019  •  Creative Writing  •  1,212 Words (5 Pages)  •  50 Views

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Roger Federer, the Swiss tennis icon, has completed one of the most stunning comebacks tennis has ever seen in 2017, with seven titles and eight finals in eleven tournaments with the year-end win-loss standing at 52-5. Not since the 2007 season have we seen such mind blowing numbers from the Swiss maestro.

When the newspapers published the image Federer, fallen face first onto the famous lawns of Wimbledon in the fifth set of the Semi-final and his subsequent announcement of shutting down his season, many tennis pundits and even the most ardent of Fed Fans have been forced to think that they might have seen the last of The Mighty Swiss, or at least that of him genuinely competing for slams.

But the uber competent Swiss is not ready to quit yet. The six month hiatus might have triggered alarm bells across the tennis fraternity, but it provided the perfect opportunity for Federer to come to terms with his no longer young body and to fully understand that his game - though still very potent and efficient - is no longer capable of getting him through against the fellow Big Four players, a group he headed for years. His younger competitors come with a power game that burns through his elegant backhand and its slick slice. That the more the number of balls coming back onto his side of the court the finer his margins for error get, considering Federer's aggressive style of going for winners, while the rest of the big four playing defensive game.

The identification of areas with room for improvement started in 2013 when he switched from his trusted 90 square inch racquet to a larger 97 square inch head. He made three grand-slam finals - Wimbledon 2014 & '15, US Open 2015 - but came up short against a peak Djokovic. His game was back on track, but the wait for elusive 18th grandslam stepped into its 4th year.

These six months thus provided a time for self-introspection and figuring out how his twilight years are going to turn out. Would he finish them as an "also ran" or would he wind back the clock?

Needless to say he took the Champions way or perhaps laid his own personal track to track to glory. He finally did what his father has screamed at him to do "hit the back hand dammit, don’t slice it". Federer re-invented his backhand taking the ball on the raise and whacking it across the net. The rushing to net game that Edberg re-introduced into Fed's game in combination with the new Neo backhand and the freedom of no expectations - even from himself - have unleashed a monster of a player that his army of fans have craved  to see and his competitors have never imagined possible in their wildest dreams.

In his first official tournament back on the tour, it took him all of two matches to shatter his doubts. The match against Berdych that pundits marked to be his end in the tournament took the stage to the unleashing of the beast he has become. And the poor Berdych was made to look like a club level player who got lucky to have a hit with Federer.

Two five setters ensued against Nishikori and Wawrinka, but the match that everyone was craving for, the showdown against his arch rival Rafael Nadal - who was on a redemption path of his own - the ninth grandslam between the two champions, Kings of Wimbledon  and Roland Garros on the plexi-cushioned Rod Laver arena. Master of Green Grass Vs Rampaging Bull on Red Dirt.

With Federer and Nadal on 17 and 14 grandslams it was a match that could swing the debate of who ends the career with G.O.A.T title next to their name. If Rafa wins it is 15 to 17 with the French open round the corner. If Federer survives he moves 4 clear of Nadal and more importantly he would break the duck on whether he could win one more Grand slam.

It was clear from the onset, that for Federer to win, the match should be played on his terms not on Nadal's. A baseline slugfest could only end with Nadal biting the Norman Brookes trophy. And Federer ensured he did just that. The 3 hour 26 min five setter was so swift with Federer’s aggressive tennis either winning him the set comfortably ( 1st &  3rd ) or  losing it (2nd & 4th ) ‘coz of  unforced errors that ensued. The four sets have been a blitz with him blowing hot and cold.



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