Roger Federer: The Rise Again
“Why do we fall? So that we may learn to rise to pick ourselves up” although the lines are from reel life, in real life they fit perfectly on Roger Federer.
After clocking over a 1000 professional level tour matches, hundreds of hours of press conferences and countless hours of practice, the one thing that has not changed for Federer in the last 17 years since he turned pro in 1998 is his love for the sport.
At a time when most of his peers have retired or are on the verge of retirement Federer is not only still competing, he is the second best player on the circuit.
Roger Federer announced his arrival to the world by defeating his childhood idol Pete Sampras on the grandest stage of them all- Wimbledon. 2 years later, the Swiss prodigy took his first stepping stone to greatness by winning the title at the All England Club. A year later, the Federer era began when he was nicknamed “Fed Express” for his rampant march towards titles. From October 2003 through September 2005, Federer won 24 straight finals, crushing Bjorn Borg’s previous record of 15.
From 2003 to that epic encounter with Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final Roger Federer was the world number 1 (237 weeks). Speaking of Nadal, critics always pull out the head to head card that reads 23-10 in favor of the Spaniard, if that be the case then Rafa has suffered early exits for four consecutive years in Wimbledon to players ranked outside top 100 but that can’t take away his accomplishments on the ATP tour. He still is the greatest clay courter of all time. If stats are the only thing to go by then here are a few:
Nadal, for all his clay-court dominance had a best streak of 118-3, while between 2005-06 Federer was a combined 109-3 on hard courts.
Nadal’s 71-2 record at Roland Garros is a head spinner for sure, but the loss in 2009 to Soderling and in 2015 to Djokovic means Nadal’s longest streak to the finals in Paris stands at 5. Federer in comparison made 7 consecutive trips to the finals at the All England club. Strange as it may sound Federer is tied with Nadal for second spot for most consecutive French Open finals-4 (the list is led by Nadal).
But Statistics aside, the fact remains that Federer and Nadal are great players in their own rights with Djokovic knocking on the door of the elite club.
The Fall and Rise
Many believe Federer’s golden years were from 2004 to 2007 when he was virtually untouchable. But Federer’s “fall” didn’t happen overnight, it took several matches to bring Federer back to the level of tennis played by the mortals. 2013 though was the lowest point for the Swiss since turning pro, he won just a solitary trophy in the entire year, barely made it to the year ending world tour championships and even fell out of the top 5. Many feared it was the beginning of the inevitable. Like a phoenix rises again from its ashes, 2014 saw the re-birth of Federer, equipped with a larger racquet and a new super coach in Stefan Edberg, Roger began the ascent to the summit and nearly was in contention for the year end world number 1. 2015 too has been a fruitful year for the 33 year old father of 4 who is through to yet another final in his favorite fortnight of the year.
With his performance so far an unprecedented eighth Wimbledon trophy is now just a steps away.