Roger Federer: the end of a fantasy era

Roger Federer: the end of a fantasy era

Roger Federer He announced what no one wanted to hear: he will leave professional tennis in a few days, after the Laver Cup, the exhibition tournament organized by his company and which will be played in London this year.

What a paradox: oblivious to injury for most of his career, the battered menisci in his right knee no longer allow him to propel himself as a superhero. Without him an era ends, an era of fantasy dies. His goodbye, truly, leaves an impossible void to fill.

At 41 years old and after 24 seasons since his tour debut (in Gstaad 1998, losing to the Argentine Lucas Arnold Ker), the Swiss leaves without the record for grand slam titles (20, against 22 of Rafael Nadal and the 21 of Novak Djokovic), neither with the most weeks at the top of the ranking (310, against Nole’s 373), nor with the superiority of total titles (103, six less than Jimmy Connors), but his legacy goes far beyond the records. His charisma, his elegance on the court, and decency.

In short, his work is much more powerful and influential than any other, and timeless.

In Basel, the Swiss portion bordering France and Germany where Roger was born, mathematicians and intellectuals, chemists and architects, filmmakers and bankers grew up. But he, the son of Robert Federer (a native of Berneck, Switzerland) and Lynette Durand (born in Johannesburg), transcended in the sport.

He became a legend due to his bodily ability to subdue his rivals, his (unique) graceful movements and sense of anticipation. Her body music was key to avoid wear and injury.

His surgical certainty to hit the foreball (with his gaze staying on the point of contact after the yellow sphere left) and his mental wisdom did the rest. She also rose to what everyone finally enjoyed, especially because of her love for the sport. His passion for tennis and adventures on the circuit fueled him. That goes a long way to explaining why he kept his cool and his case was one of the most extraordinary examples of longevity.

Roger Federer, dancer and violinist

Federer was a Bolshoi dancer, a violinist with a racket. The Swiss, irascible as a boy, a gentleman as an adult, built his history in sports with a body in harmony and crossing generations. He clashed with Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

He battled rackets from his ilk like Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian. He fought for the same goals with younger guys like Nadal, Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro and challenged, one after another, those who kept coming.

In his last match, in the 2021 Wimbledon quarterfinals, he fell to a 24-year-old rival: the Polish Hubert Hurkacz. With 1,526 career games for him (1,251 wins and 275 losses; 82.0 percent shooting) and without a single retirement on the court, he played on tiptoe, with flexibility and sympathy. He changed the racket sport forever.

He was, by far, the tennis player most revered by the tennis public (it was demonstrated at the last Wimbledon, with the ovation he received when he stepped onto the pitch during the center court centenary ceremony). Last year, even having played just 14 matches for the season, he was voted “Fans’ Favorite” at the ATP Awards for the 19th time in a row.

No scandals or stains due to doping, match fixing or other tennis diseases were known to him. In 2011, a study of more than 50,000 people from 25 countries found that only Nelson Mandela (Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1993) had a better reputation than Federer. Through his foundation, he has empowered himself as a philanthropist and tries to improve school access for children in Africa.

Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2021

It broke all the marks linked to public attraction and marketing, with its ‘RF’ logo. Roger and the German Alexander Zverev were the protagonists of an (exhibition) match that set the call record: 42,571 spectators. It was on November 23, 2019, at the Plaza de Toros Monumental in Mexico City.

The game, corresponding to Federer’s tour of different parts of Latin America, surpassed the mark held by the Belgian Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams in an exhibition played in 2010, in Brussels, in which they summoned 35,681 spectators.

He dominated the grass at Wimbledon winning it eight times. In 2019, being three in the ranking, he was very close to achieving it once again: he reached the final and had two match points —with his serve— against Djokovic, who was the one, but the Serb triumphed. Roger cried like never before and did not hide his anguish: those reactions made him an earthly star, of flesh and blood.

Federer built a work of art (his career) provoking a feeling of perpetuity, of development with no expiration date.

The day after Federer’s retirement

For the world (and the market) of tennis it will be quite a challenge to live without Federer’s magnet. He played with grace and creativity, he competed with voracity and fervor. He received several setbacks, of course, but he took them with respect and sportsmanship. He always sought to perfect his game, even as more than a number 1 (his backhand impact, his game at the net, changing the size of the rim of his racket).

In a few days, from the 23rd to the 25th of this month, at the O2 Arena in London, where he won two of the six Masters tournaments he has, Federer will present his last brushstrokes. It’s hard to venture into the moment, but his eyes will water and his voice will crack. A complex feeling of untying will appear. Then a new stage will come for Roger and his family (his wife, Mirka, a key player during his career, and the two sets of twins, Charlene Riva and Myla Rose, Leo and Lenny), without the demands of high performance.

Later there will be all kinds of accolades and induction into the Hall of Fame in Newport. Federer represented the beauty of sport, like Michael Jordan, like Mohamed Ali. The world will keep turning. But the flame, so alive for more than two decades, finally burned out. Other incentives will come, but nothing will be the same. Tennis loses a superhero. Now what was presumed is felt: we were not prepared for such a farewell.

Sebastian Torok
The Nation (Argentina)

This News is Published from Google Alert – Roger Federer.

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