What does greatness in any sport entail?
A: Achieving all the highest accolades in that sport.
B: Being ranked No 1 for a considerable time period.
C: Having record number records.
D: The ability to come back strongly after every lean patch.
All of the above.
In modern times if the sporting world has witnessed one athlete who has constantly managed to fulfill all of the above criteria for sporting greatness, it has been Roger Federer. Since winning his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2003 and continuing this streak for 5 years, to approaching his 13th stint at SW19 ranked No 3 in the world and without a single Grand Slam in his kitty this year, Federer has come a long way. His ATP rankings are plummeting and he is out of the Top2, he is approaching his 30th birthday, he hasn’t been performing up to the mark this year, he has just lost another French Open Finals to arch-nemesis Rafael Nadal and he is no longer considered as the greatest of this era by some people. Yet there are a certain section of tennis fans and players that refuse to believe that the Federer star is permanently waning and who still hail Roger as the greatest tennis player ever.
There are a number of reasons for this unprecedented popularity of Roger Federer. Since 2003 he has enthralled the tennis world with his mastery and notched up a sizeable amount of accolades. Federer has won 16 Grand Slam titles, breaking the previous all-time male record of 14 by Pete Sampras, he won five consecutive men's titles at Wimbledon and holds the open-era record for most consecutive US Open titles at 5, he has won 67 championships in his career, won the ATP World Tour Finals titles a record 5 times and is the first man to be ranked World No. 1 for at least four consecutive years, he was also adjudged Laureus Sportsperson of the Year for a record 4 consecutive times. However it’s not these records and victories which makes him, but the fact that he has bounced back every time he was written off and has emerged victorious every single time. It was the year 2008, he exited the Australian Open in the semis, was a runner-up at Rolland Garros and most importantly he failed to defend his dominance at Wimbledon and ended up losing his Number 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal after 4 years at the top. That he managed to win the US Open was little consolation. The doomsayers had sounded is death knell and proclaimed that 2009 will see him fall forever. But Federer had a point left to prove. He couldn’t win the Australian Open and was the runner –up, but that did not deter him, he only rose higher. He went to finally capture his elusive dream and lifted the French Open Trophy for the first time completing a career Slam, he went on to win an epic Wimbledon Final defeating Andy Roddick and he was back on top. He had managed to silence his critics with his customized Wilson Six.One Tour BLX tennis racquet and win hearts with his phoenix act. 2010 again proved mediocre year for him with the lone Grand Slam win at the Australian Open and quarterfinal exits at both Rolland Garros and Wimbledon. But he topped it off in style defeating Rafael Nadal in the finals of the ATP World Tour Masters. 2011 was also a similar story with a semifinal exit in Melbourne and a similar prediction by pundits at Rolland Garros. But Federer made his racquet do the talking once again and reached the finals of the French Open in style defeating Novak Djokovic and breaking his winning streak of a mammoth 8 months and 41 matches! He ended up the runner up but still managed to show once again why he should not be written off easily.
Now, with 2 Grand Slams to there is still a lot to be seen and proven this year. It does not matter if Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi hail him as the greatest ever, what matters is continuous performance and positive results. Hopefully Federer can stretch himself again and shut his detractors once and for all. He may not have a lot of playing years left in him, but tennis is not only a young man’s game as we have seen over and over again. I believe that he has a lot of potential left and a lot of achievements to come his way even if he is not as dominant as he used to be on the tennis court. I believe that Roger Federer may not be invincible any more, but he is till incredible!