On Sunday, Roger Federer, the supreme artist on the tennis court, showed that he has a few more years of top-class performances left in him. The 32-year-old father of four was never expected to do well at Grand Slams, even if he has 17 titles to his credit, including a record-equalling seven Wimbledons.
He would have added an eighth, had luck favoured him. Or, if Novak Djokovic, the No 1 seed, had decided to slow down his serves a bit. But to not give up even at championship point (Federer served two aces at this juncture) has become the hallmark of the Swiss champion’s play. He countered aggression with aggression, aces with aces (at one point in the fourth set, he served four aces in a row), and forehand for forehand.
The epic Sunday final reminded fans of Federer’s three other epic finals 2007, 2008 and 2009. The first two were against his bete noire, Rafael Nadal and the last one was against a resurgent Andy Roddick. All three finals, like the 2014 one, were five-setters, and were modern classics.
But then, Federer was aged 25, 26 and 27 respectively during those finals, and moved around the court like a hare. At 32, even his diehard fans may have discounted his fitness. Yet, the champion rose above those reservations and produced one of the finest comebacks in modern sport. It is a pity he lost. For, if he had won, there would not have been a greater advertisement for the great game of tennis.
John McEnroe, another artist on grass, said this of Federer, during his commentary for a television station: “He loves winning more than he hates losing.” This philosophy is what separates the champions from the rest.
The jury may still be out on who is the greatest tennis player of all time (Rod Laver, Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal being the frontrunners), but even after keeping aside his Grand Slam wins, Federer put in a strong application to that title after Sunday’s SW19 performance.