Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Grace point

You know what makes Federer great? Or should i ask, what makes him one of the greatest, if not the greatest of all time?

Let me answer that for you: his prolonged athleticism coupled with matchless perseverance and enduring health. Federer, unlike most contemporaries on the court, has mastered the art of causing least amount of damage to his body. He somehow has managed to remain fit throughout his career. There have been very few instances where his health ditched him. He might be 34 now but that shouldn't a concern. He is bound to stick around. One of the main reasons why he's adored by the likes of Laver, Borg and Sampras is they all know he's the last of his tribe. He's the perfect balance of gust and grace. As the intensity of power play kept going up with more and more baseliners making their presence felt, Federer continued doing what he does best: stay effortless and highly artistic. Maybe that's why giant servers like Karlovic and Isner are just that in front of him—giant servers. Of course, there's no denying that Djokovic is the toast of the season and he's going to last for a really long time. But then that's pure speculation, right? After all, we never thought Nadal would slow down thanks to his overworked pair of knees. 
Federer, at any given rate of comparison, is the only player in Open era to continue playing the way he does. Yes, Connor and Lendl were around for what seemed like eternity but were they dominant the way Federer is? Well, no one comes close. Not at the age of 34. Maybe Djoko might surge ahead someday if he continues with his gluten-free diet and whatnot regime. We'll have to wait and see. But then, Federer hasn't missed a Grand Slam since 2000. And if that's not awe-inspiring enough, he hasn't ever retired from a match. Not even once. And i think that is his greatest legacy. A lesson to all his fellow players—and upcoming ones too—who have forsaken aesthetics for muscles. Who have come to believe that power lasts longer than grace. Who haven't served-volleyed or played a drop shot in ages now. Evolution of tennis? Bullshit. Whether they get it or not, beauty lasts the longest. And grace, much longer. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have constantly seen this standard narrative on Federer's health. That he is always fit and has managed to avoid injuries with his playing style etc. While it may seem like a complement to Federer, it does a great disservice to him by undermining his grit and fighting spirit during all those times when he played on while carrying injuries.

And unlike some of his famous rivals who issue health bulletins on the status of their various injuries at every tournament, or take frequent sabbaticals citing various (dubious, if I may add) injuries, Federer chooses to remain tight lipped about whatever ailments he may be suffering from and shows up and puts up a fight, taking his beating like a man, instead of avoiding the battle. He has had 0 retirements in his pro-career, and surely it cannot be only because he is the healthiest athlete around. It speaks of his attitude more than his health.

I can give you a list of Federer's injuries which are not often cited by the press because he has never chosen to project this 'injured warrior battling against odds' image or even tried to use his injuries as preemptive excuses should he lose a big match or tournament. He has had chronic back problems which deteriorated from about 2009. His 2013 was a washout due to his back problem. He had mono in 2008 and he has never quite been the same player since. He played on in early 2008 with the mono. He had pneumonia in 2010 and took several months to regain fitness. Just that he didn't sit out of tournaments and instead played on and took his beatings from lesser players.

For the last 6 years, he has had back injury flareups during important tournaments but we hardly ever see headlines like "Injured Federer loses to XYZ". When he loses, it is because he is not so good anymore, when his much younger rivals in their prime lose, it is because if their injuries. The double standards employed by the tennis commentators and press is sometimes mind boggling.