Roger ended his retirement message by saying, “To the game of tennis, I love you and will never leave you.” In reality, it is tennis that owes him a great debt.
As a recreational tennis player who started learning the sport two years ago, one of the first decisions I had to make was which of the two backhands I wanted to learn. The best part of learning anything as an adult is that you get greater autonomy of choice.
There’s the classic one-handed backhand which, as the name suggests, involves lining up the incoming tennis ball and returning it with a quick movement of the elbow and forearm. Then there’s the more modern and popular two-handed backhand, which is played much like a left-handed cricketer would play the shot – with both arms.
Coaches today tend to advise their wards to learn the latter. After all, two-handed gives you better control and is easy to learn young. Tennis legends and young stars – Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Rudd and Alexander Zverev – also preferred it.
The problem with setbacks is that once you pick one up and start perfecting it, it’s hard to change. And for years, the one-handed backhand has been described by coaches as a dinosaur in the modern game – an ancient relic rarely used. I chose it, learned it and loved it. And it was because of a man named Roger Federer.
Long before Federer played his last major (Wimbledon 2021), he was, in every way, an anachronism – he didn’t belong in that era. At a time when tennis talent continued to embrace the aggressive baseline within them (a style of play where a player continues to hit powerful shots from the baseline), Federer’s serve and volley was a return to a bygone era.
When young talent kept shooting backhand with two hands, his one-handed backhand gave sports photographers their money every time. When tennis stars started changing their grips to more extreme grips or playing shots with more top-spin in accordance with the demands of the modern game – Khachanov, Tiafoe, Kyrgios and even Nadal – his classic oriental grip caused a stir. a lot.
Yet for Federer, success was omnipresent. His one-handed backhand is one of the most studied shots in the game today. And while his classic eastern grip doesn’t exactly make him a topspin colossus, it did allow him to whip up forehands with a such speed, accuracy and minimal recoil that his opponents simply ran out of time. In other words, Federer eschewed the modern game for a more artistic game, doing so in such an efficient, ruthless, and full of champion skill way. He is perhaps the most effective anachronism in modern tennis. If he had dinosaur skills, he was a T-Rex you were talking about.
Winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2017 well before his thirties before becoming the oldest player (36) to be ranked number one the following year, Federer proved time and time again that class is permanent and age is just a number. This, at a time when Djokovic was well capturing the imagination of the modern tennis world as he raced to face Federer and Nadal in the Grand Slam count.
However, if there was one person who recognized the mortal in the legendary guise, it was Federer himself. “The past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” he said in his poignant retirement message, “I’ve worked hard to get back to full competitive form. But I know also the capabilities and limitations of my body, and the message he has given me lately has been clear I am 41 years old, I have played over 1,500 games in 24 years… and now I have to recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.
The decision must not have been easy. After all, Roger Federer won a total of 20 Grand Slams during a legendary and famous tennis career, but lost a few towards the end. Wimbledon 2019 was not his despite his championship points, and the Australian Open saw a quarter-final loss to Djokovic. Her knees just weren’t up to the task, and the arthroscopic surgery — her third on her knees — wasn’t exactly doing her career any favors.
Today, Rafael Nadal has 22 Grand Slams – two more than Federer – while Djokovic’s 21 Majors have seen his tally surpass Roger’s. Still, you can’t help but admit that the term “greatness” is inadvertently associated with Federer’s name. And that’s because the quality of his greatness transcended numbers.
The heartwarming Rolex advertisement released the day after Federer’s retirement aptly put it: “There are some things that numbers cannot convey – the beauty he instilled in the discipline, enriching and perfecting his game year after year ; his grace and elegance on and off the court, which made him one of the most revered athletes of our time. Numbers will never fully encompass the extent of his ever-growing legend, nor the extent of his perpetually inspiring legacy – for this is a greatness that can never be measured.
Roger ended his retirement message with the words: “At the game of tennis, I love you and will never leave you.” In reality, it is tennis—its purest and most elegant form—which owes him a great debt, for he brought to it an incomparable art. So tennis loves you back, Roger Federer. You will miss him for years to come.
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This News is Published from Google Alert – Roger Federer.