Intelligence, elegance, stealth, and brilliance – all describe Roger Federer. At 40, and 22 years since his professional debut, he’s still shining and showing his magic on the court. After recovering from his knee surgery in 2020, Roger was ready to come back for the 2021 tennis season.
We have to admit, for someone who just had knee surgery, battling through the Wimbledon quarter-finals was a huge feat. Roger wasn’t able to bag his 21st, but we will see him again on-court soon.
For now, let’s review why Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time.
Federer has won a lot of career titles. He tied with Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam tournament titles won. Within those, he won the most Wimbledon titles in the history of the game, the most sought-after title in tennis. He’s behind Jimmy Connors, Wimbledon’s 1974 and 1982 Champion, for the man who has won the most singles titles in tennis, with Connors bagging 109 and Federer having 103.
Federer holds so many records and so many important ones at that. People can’t wait to see what he’s going to add to his long list of titles next.
Federer is just a privilege to watch on the court. He’s fast, powerful, and creative, and he’s very refined. All the different variations that he can come up with using his forehand, backhand, squash shots, and his infamous net plays have all been historical. He has an immense diversity of shots. When it comes to his serves, Paul Annacone, who both coached Roger Federer and Pete Sampras at one point, said that Roger’s serves are unbelievable, even in grass courts where the ball tends to be faster and lower.
It’s not that surprising that with his ability to come up with different powerful and elegant shots he’s able to adapt to various situations and playing fields.
Many are in awe of his ability to play brilliantly on both grass and clay courts. On grass courts the ball slides fast so the reaction time needs to be quicker, meanwhile on grass courts, the ball is slower but the rallies are longer and fundamentally more important. These two surfaces are very different from each other and will require a player to display different techniques, strengths, and skills to win matches. That’s why professional tennis players find it difficult to bag the Wimbledon and French Open titles in a single year. Of course, Roger Federer, Nadal, and icons like Bjorn Borg have done it.
Like Coach Annacone said, “things change, and evolution happens, but the best players learn to adapt.”
We can see this in Roger’s Wimbledon 2021 game. Even the greatest fall down, and it’s what they do after that brands them as winners. In Roger’s case, he’s said in the interview that he’s going to “reassess” everything. Analyze what went wrong, what went well, and then fix it.
Class, elegance, stealth, and creativity are why Roger Federer stands out among the competition. Federer doesn’t just charge and play, he does it with finesse, making complex moves look so easy.
Although Federer has a reputation for winning, his goal is to play. Watching him, you see a man who’s passionate about the game and his craft. Win or lose, his goal is to always get in better shape for the next match.
For the mere mortal, there’s a limit to playing professionally. This rings true for ballplayers and fighters. Even professional ice skaters and skiers have to retire their skates and high-performance ski pants at some point. But to Federer, as long as he’s in great shape, there’s no reason to let go of his tennis racket and hang up his headband (or give it away to a lucky fan).
One thing that made an impact when watching Federer is his growing style of play. There will always be someone faster and stronger than him. There has been that person throughout his career, however, he didn’t win because he’s the fastest in the game (well, he did have a 230km/h serve), he won because he has the ability to adapt physically and mentally. And he does so with such refinement. That itself is unbelievable and worthy of being called the greatest of all time.
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