Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is that time of the year; Wimbledon. So hunker down, grab a liberal lashing of strawberries and cream and welcome to centre court the competitors for our first match of the day.

First, please, a round of applause for Great Britain’s Andy Murray.

Twenty-five years old and ranked number four in the world, Wimbledon 2012 is his time.

Long anointed as the best player to have never won a grand slam event, the 6ft 3” lion-hearted talent from Glasgow is ready to propel himself into the dressing room of champions.

With millions in prize money up for the take, one would imagine that oysters and champagne will be the order of the day. All that money, that is what matters; after all, it is what makes the world go round.

At least for most it does.

Twenty million in career prize money, he is made. That Andy lacks for nothing goes without saying. A condo here, a condo there, all that hard work, it sure paid.

Not for Murray the trappings of obscene wealth. There has to be more, for he is no fat cat.

Financially set up for life, there is plenty of time to enjoy the spoils. Those spoils, though, would taste decidedly better accompanied by a host of grand slam titles, particularly that local delicacy the British have not feasted on since 1936; Wimbledon.

But now is the hour and after a seventy-six year odyssey, the British - having done battle with the tennis gods of faraway lands that are the breeding grounds of the wicked - have sent the chosen one.

With a ready supply of heavy artillery available to bombard anyone foolish enough to block his path into greatness, nothing can stand in the way of the best of British. It is not just a case of assault and battery. For sure, if Murray wishes, he can use the weaponry at his disposal, but unlike many a modern day player who know no other way than to belt the cover off the ball he also has the capacity for the deftest of stroke making.

His foe could be sent this way or that, usually the opposite to where the ball is at.

Oh so infuriating it must be for that field of pretenders to know that they are up against a Tennis genius. One that will pull out shots that will rescue the day whenever is required.

A talent for sure, he’s a fighter too. In it till the end, he is the fiercest of competitors. No matter the dilemma put in front of him, Murray will battle to find a solution. Sure, it will not always go his way, but champions are fighters and fighters are champions. That is what they do; fight, come what may.

And now, would you please extend a warm welcome to his competitor, Scotland’s Andy Murray.

Yes, it may take him awhile to get to his courtside seat as he slowly slouches his way onwards due to an ongoing battle with a troublesome back. But do be patient with the Scot, for life has never been easy.

Twenty-five years old and ranked number four in the world, Wimbledon 2012 more than likely will not be his time.

The talent is there, but which will win out? The breathtaking talent he so clearly possesses or the demons that swirl around in his head which seem to regularly supersede any valuable commodity in the form of a stoic mental outlook.

Those said demons might go some way to explaining the three grand slam finals to his name, and yet not a set won.

Not his fault, mind, as there are a multitude of reasons for things to go wrong; racquets, balls, weather conditions and the like.

But support is what a twenty-five year old desires.

Which is why, in his courtside box, he has brought with him a welcome party of extras that include his Coach, person trainer, doctor, physiotherapist, masseuse and, of course, his Mother.

And what normal adult doesn’t need his mother at his side. Along with a record number of others, it must be very helpful to have such good people in one’s camp, to search out in between points for reassurance. After all, why do your own thinking when you can lean on another’s expertise continuously. It is much easier that way. You see, taking responsibility for oneself is a novel concept in today’s society.

And why should Andy be any different? If it is good enough for others to avoid the real world, why shouldn’t he? No need to stand tall, battle on and think on one’s feet as he maturely attempts to fight the ravages of his given situation, when it is so much easier to sulk around the court muttering and cursing darkly to himself on the desperation and unfairness of his lot, feeling sorry for oneself and blaming everyone else.

So, who is going to win out?

Will it be the angst ridden Scot or will that Scot transcend into the free flowing Brit who has the world at his feet with his vast array of limitless shotmaking possibilities that he parades before an adoring crowd who cannot help but roar their approval.

I have no idea. How about you?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It is a cold hard world out there. Just ask Tiger Woods, he’ll tell you. At least he would if he were the type to admit to any fallacy within his psyche.

But that isn’t the way of the Tiger. Hell will freeze over before he is heard to utter anything remotely resembling an admission of defeat. Never mind that having had a share of the lead heading into the final rounds of last Weekend’s US Open, he flopped when it mattered most.

Despite the writing being on the wall after round three, he still wasn’t ready to concede defeat.

Fair enough, but what Woods fails to realise is that fate has an unpleasant habit of taking any aspirations the ambitious have and heading off in whichever direction that takes its fancy, regardless of what its subject may wish for.

Unfortunately for Woods, he may never recapture the form of his glory days until he learns to accept that, particularly post scandal days, he can no longer manipulate any given situation to best suit his needs.

This of course means that he will now have to acquire the mental skills to perform at his optimum, under duress. Admittedly, this is not exactly breaking news, but after two and a half years he is still clearly struggling with the reality of an unfriendly environment.

Will this change? Despite signs of improvement over the previous few months, doubt remains.

Gone are the days when his competitors were intimidated by anything and everything Tiger.

With the help of the PR machine that amped him up to be the perfect family man and the fawning public rallying behind his every move, he could do no wrong; we all loved him and everything he stood for. He gave us the best of both worlds; he was a nice guy whose family values resonated, and a champion to boot.

He made us all believe we could be someone, too, which offered us hope beyond our ordinary everyday existences. We loved him for it and he felt comfortable within an environment that he was able to control.

He could get away with almost anything with the public on his side.

But not now, for he lost their respect. Down came the aura of invincibility that had prevailed for so long. The prey is no longer the hunted, and more than ever now is on equal terms having become every bit the hunters.

Tiger is now nothing more than a cub wandering the wilderness of the long lonely fairways desperately seeking out the habitation of old needed to sate his insatiable appetite for acceptance as he searches earnestly for the one key ingredient in mental toughness that will once again set the raging fires of high performance alight with a searing intensity that no other can withstand.

It is a cold hard world out there. Just ask Tiger Woods, he’ll tell you. On second thoughts, nah, don’t bother, he proberly hasn’t learnt yet.

At least that is what you would surmise by his response when asked to comment on seventeen year old amateur Beau Hossler, who was leading after round one. All Woods had to do was conjure up some complementary remarks about a young up and comer, a few pleasantries, a smile and then move on with his day. Instead he responded by pointedly picking the kid to pieces. It smacked of a man sour with his lot, of someone lacking the confidence in his ability, desperately concerned about a competitor getting an edge. Not of a golfer that knew he had a seventeen year olds measure, not to mention the rest of the field.

To be sure, it was not a good look. Already, the public’s respect for him as a person had diminished to the point of non-existence. Certainly it wasn’t the way to win back a doubting public. There will be only one way to do that: win a major. Then they will forget.

Problem is Woods does not appear to have the confidence in himself that he used to possess. That protective cloak has been torn asunder. It is now ripped to a pulp and lying wastefully in the grisliest of bunkers as a new breed of golfers that do not fear the former great trample over the sediment of Tiger’s once proud golfing spirit.

Interesting to note over that torturous final two days was Woods choice of attire.

Gone were the loud colors of days gone by when he was busy obliterating opponents as he relentlessly marched on to a sensational fourteen major titles. Nowhere to be seen were the bright red shirts. Now, granted, this does not seem like a huge issue, but maybe it is indicative of a man that, at the very least, subconsciously, no longer has the confidence to go out and take the fight to the golfing world on his own terms.

It is almost as if he was trying to blend in. Surely not.

Whatever the problem was, the only thing in the red by the end of seventy-two holes was his scorecard.

In the end, despite there having been a myriad of reasons put forward for the demise of Woods over the last two days, maybe it comes down to something as simple as that lack of self-belief.

Until he rediscovers that inner confidence, his much desired fifteenth title will continue hiding out in the far flung reaches of the barren desert that is his major ambition.

This can only mean that a bear will go down in history as the greatest ever, not a tiger.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Come on everybody, get off Lance Armstrong’s back and give the guy a break. Don’t bitch, don’t moan and groan... leave him alone, after all he is a legend, a hero to millions of Americans, and millions of others the world over.

There can be no surprise at this.

The man has survived cancer, won multitudes of Tour de France titles - here is an athlete that has toiled long and hard, riding thousands upon thousands of miles in training each and every year in his quest to be the best.

The dedication it takes to reach the apex of cycling cannot be underestimated. It is not just about having the talent, though undoubtedly Armstrong was never lacking in that department. There are other elements at play too, not least the inner fortitude to take one’s mind to places it has never encountered before and gather up the courage to battle through near unbearable pain levels as one attempts to conquer the opposition, the heftiness of a bike, all those gears and some of the most fearsome mountain climbs known to the sport of cycling.

And through all of this Armstrong has taken on all-comers while being free from the use of drugs.

We know this because he has never failed a drugs test throughout his long and distinguished career. Not only that but Lance says he has never cheated, and far be it for any of us mere mortals more commonly known as the epitome of ignorance to question the legitimacy of his morals and values.

I mean, who do we think we are to question one of sports all time great competitors? This is a guy that was so good that he won seven Tour de France titles in a row
Hard work was how he achieved his hard fought success and fame, unlike so many others who garnered their success through the use of unlawful means.

There was Floyd Landis – head of the class for his industrial scale efforts on the drug taking front. There was Tyler Hamilton; banned. Michael Rasmussen – cheat. There was Alberto Contador; tested positive, but naturally he has no idea how said substance managed to mysteriously appear in his system. And, of course, there was Jan Ulrich, the man who was quite possibly the mightiest talent of all, caught taking untoward substances.

Some inordinately larges talents amongst that lot, for sure. To beat men of that calibre, who also decided to illegally gain an advantage through the use of artificial stimulation, all the while been drug free . . . wow, what a talent he is that he made a bunch of convicted drugs cheats look like weekend hacks through the use of nothing more than talent and hard work.

So, let’s get off his case and celebrate the great man’s achievements.

How ludicrous for anyone out there to suggest that Armstrong cheated. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that he has at any time during his career taken performance enhancing drugs. Never mind that the US anti-doping authority have charged Armstrong with doping. Farcical, really, to think that such a paragon of virtue in the form of Lance Armstrong would be the latest target of USADA.

Apparently they have damming evidence to back up their case. Proberly a conspiracy - it has to be. I mean, don’t the authorities know who they are attacking. Please, this is Lance Armstrong we are talking about here. What a legend. Good God, leave the man alone. Seriously, he cannot be anything other than blameless. Ah, tall poppy syndrome. It has to be.

Blood, sweat and tears, that is all he needed. Because when you desire something badly enough you’ll push yourself through the pain barrier. No alp could or did hinder his progress into greatness. Drugs – HA, who needs them? Not Lance, that is for sure.

There is nothing quite like a steely determination to succeed and beat any challenge put in front of you, in a purely legal manner.

Besides, according to Lance, it is nothing more than a witch-hunt being executed against him by the USADA. This we know because Armstrong has never done anything wrong in his impeccably lived existence, so what he says has to be correct. After all, Lance’s word is reputable, how could he ever do anything wrong. Surely it is time a lot of us learnt to be less cynical and have more faith in our fellow men and women.

Instead of calling for his head, we should all be celebrating such a brave and courageous soul, someone who has beaten the odds and trampled over the arch enemy of deceit. Above all he is someone that has taken on men found to have had their performance enhanced by the use of drugs, and still triumphed.

Don’t bother listening to the likes of Landis, either, who has publically accused Armstrong of blood doping. I mean, he is a known cheat who denied taking drugs. Would you believe anything he says? Much better to believe Armstrong because he has never been caught doing anything wrong in his life. And we all know that if you have not been found guilty of something, then there is no way that your morals are anything but the purest. And being the nice chap that he is, I’m sure Armstrong chose not to sue Landis for defamation out of the kindness of his heart. Proberly all those training rides together that he fondly remembers that stopped him.

And forget the fact that Landis has claimed that he and Armstrong discussed blood doping on those long rides together. Like such an issue would ever be a topic of conversation for someone clean like Armstrong. For sure he would quickly bring to a halt any such talk. For, he is above that type of thing.

More likely the pair of them spent their time discussing Einstein’s theory of relativity, or the impact on 18th century Russia of the reign of Catherine the Great. Certainly, it is hard to comprehend there being time to discuss the merits of blood transfusions over EPO, or not.

In Armstrong we have a man that, drug free, has battled the best in the world – many of whom have tested positive to banned stimulants – and beaten them.

Put it down as a win for the good guys.

What makes his story even more remarkable was his famous battle with cancer. For two long years the man from Austin, Texas, fought a life threatening war against what turned out to be his greatest foe of all. That he survived was a mighty effort in itself. Then, after all he had been through he dragged himself back up and became the greatest Tour de France rider of all time.

You get your health back, so why would anyone in their right mind subject their body to potentially life threatening drugs?

Remember, too, that Lance isn’t like the rest of us who spend our time dreaming of money, fame and worldwide success. He is above all that sort of childish nonsense, so give the guy a break. Surely there is no reason for him to cheat, is there?

Just the joy of being able to compete again would be enough for him.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The time has come to put an end to this diatribe of the senses. To sever its head and stab the ugly beast of excessive racket with a dagger to the heart, killing it off before all hope is gone.

It has got to stop, now.

What has to stop, you may ask? Grunting, that’s what.

For too long now tennis fans around the world have had to suffer through a continuous torrent of this noise infested malaise, leaving their eardrums battered and popped.

Surely enough is enough.

Now is the hour for Tennis officialdom to stomp on this torturous practice of the young and the brattish, to once and for all ban it from the domain of each and every court on the professional circuit for the betterment of the game.

That is if they have the courage. If not, they should send out a rigorous search party to find a healthy dollop of this most valuable of commodities, for this is one of the major issues facing Tennis.

Players can complain all they like about excessively hard touring schedules, but if the fans finally tire of the tedious practice of grunting - which amounts to nothing more than blatant cheating – and up sticks, taking with them their hard earned to other forms of entertainment, then not only does the sport suffer but so do those same players.

You wouldn’t think it hard for them to deduce that no fans equates to no sponsors, which in turn means less prize money for them.

In the end if the players wish to persevere with this odious practice they may find that they bite the hand that feeds.

Maybe if they found out what a loss of income feels like, they would quickly change their attitude towards grunting. Combine that with a ban from the next Grand Slam event, hence taking away any chance of glory, then the message would be rammed home in a jiffy.

One severely doubts the capacity of administrators to stand up to the players, though.

Until now they have shown no inclination to scrap it out with the little monsters, constantly stating that the practice is too ingrained in the current era of tennis stars for them to be able to change.

Numerous words spring to mind in response to this such as bollocks, baloney and poppycock. And that is just for starters. Please do spare us this mindless drivel whereby we are expected to believe that players are putting in so much effort that they need to exhale a monumental groan upon hitting a ball. Even shots not hit with the maximum of force seem to be accompanied with the almightiest of wails.

Becker, Graf, Navratilova, Borg, Laver, McEnroe, they didn’t grunt – and they weren’t the worst talents going around. Hit the ball pretty hard, too.

I mean, Roger Federer doesn’t, and he has a reasonable power game. Petra Kvitova doesn’t and she hits as hard as any in the women’s game. So why do many of the others feel the need to?

Perhaps it is to distract their opposition. Nah, it couldn’t be, they are professionals after all. Of course they are above this sort of nefarious behaviour.

Or are they?

Just this last January in Auckland, David Ferrer spent two and a half sets grunting.

Amazingly, as soon as he was well ahead in the third set, the din abated.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to the motives for this.

What it does show, though, is the ability to compete without this symphony of sonic diarrhoea, and also without it near the end of the match where presumably the athlete would be suffering from the effects of physical exertion more than he or she was at the beginning.

At times there seems to be more wailing going on early in a match than later.

Go figure.

The reality of the situation is that the use of grunting is nothing more than a deliberate attempt to cheat; to disguise the sound of the ball as it whizzes off the racquet so that it is harder for the opposition player to decipher what type of shot has been played. And, trust me, they can definitely tell by the sound the ball makes.

At least they would if it were not for the grunting.

Even worse than Ferrer and others in the men’s game, are the women. Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova are two of the biggest culprits within the sport.

They are two of the true stars of the game running roughshod over all and sundry, seemingly without any sign of a conscience floating around in their heads as to the damage they are reeking upon a sport loved by many.

Here lies the problem the administrators perceive themselves to have. If they bring bans in for grunting, two of the biggest names in Women’s tennis would be the first to suffer an enforced layoff. And the Women’s game is already lacking in genuine depth. Crowds supposedly would not turn up to events. More than likely the administrators fear the top players, believing they need them more than the players need the governing body. Now there is even more poppycock for you.

And so what if tournaments are weakened initially? This is a case of suffering some pain in the short term in exchange for long term gain.

Go on, ban them, and send a message. Show them that Tennis is bigger than a small minority of spoilt brats that have never stepped out into the real world and believe they can do as they please, no matter how it affects anybody else.

Sure you will lose some of your stars at the outset, but just watch the next tier play their little hearts out when they sense an opportunity to gain a major title, along with a humongous payday. Don’t fear for the likes of Sharapova and Azarenka though, they will soon fall into line. They’ll be back, eager to be in the spotlight once again.

The public will understand – in fact they’ll be right behind the governing body on this issue. Just listen.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

New South Wales, you don’t really believe, do you? Go on, admit it, Queensland have got your measure. Deep down you know it; you don’t think you can beat them.

You talk the talk, but after six consecutive series losses your walk appeals as nothing more than a crippled hobble.

You have the veneer of a Ferrari but the engine of a Morris Minor.

That you were dominating Queensland in the opening twenty minutes of State of Origin one displays an ability to match. You took the game to the northerners, they struggled with the heat. All they could do was hang on for dear life, but when it appeared you had Queensland’s range your cause segwayed into a capricious splutter leaving you unable to finish the mission.

Why? Is it a lack of self-belief? I mean, you run your foe ragged, they struggle to cope, yet you regularly leave with unfinished business. When the time came to put your foot to their throat and take their breath away, you went into your shell. When push came to shove, it’s as if you were scared to harness your willpower to harass your way through the mental barrier that would allow you to be catapulted into that much vaunted Promised Land.

It was a job half done. Now there is something about you that we’ve never heard before.

It must be obvious to you that you are good enough, that the gods of success are prepared to appropriate your ascension into the exulted realms of the winners circle.

At least it should be. It’s not as if you can’t play. Success is waiting patiently in one of life’s many doorways for you to reach out and take hold of its bare-knuckled exuberance and use it tellingly in your quest for a meaningful relationship with glory.

After all nature’s light shines brightest on those who have the belief in themselves to utilise their given talents. Still, it is all very well having talent but it is the top six inches that matter most in professional sport.

It seems this is a case of those last few inches not quite corresponding with your hopes and dreams.

Perhaps, then, you don’t believe.

For every time you had the Maroons at breaking point they found a way back from the brink to bring down your attacking raids. Kudos to them, but you would think that with all those opportunities you had, even one might be converted. But, no, not one measly little opportunity was snaffled up by you.

And therein lies the problem. These moments are far from being puny in nature, but you don’t quite believe in yourselves enough to reap the rewards that await you as a potential tenant.

Until you rediscover that long lost self belief, this situation threatens to fester. It is fast turning into an deleterious boil infested with a soaring lack of confidence, in turn leading to missed opportunities as you displayed time and again in Origin one.

They were there for all to see in plentiful abundance.

Many of us lost count the number of times you succeeded in getting Michael Jennings in open space down the left side attack, yet not one of those chances came to fruition. All you could manage was two tries from kicks.

Match after match, series after series, you flatter to deceive.

Failure has become your reality. Now though, the time has come to close your eyes and be blind to the past, opening your mind to the reality of what is now possible. Never have you had to touch and feel something for it to be real. That hope, those dreams, they are all the thought processes of the real; now is the opportune moment to rotate them into something more tangible. After all, your reality is what you choose to make it.

You can decide to man up and take the might of Queensland head on with eighty minutes of rip-snorting play combined with a fearlessness never seen before, erasing any slumberous thoughts from the habitat of your self-consciousness thus allowing your talent to march on unabated into your very own Tour de Force Origin performance.

Or not. It is your choice, after all.

Surely the alternative and its consequences do not bear contemplating. Being labelled losers yet again by an unforgiving public that sense you do not care as much as the Queenslanders do can’t be a situation that rests easy with you.

Another loss, another series down the gurgler, now would be the time to explore the inner strength from within. If not, seven series losses in a row – oh well, never mind.

Of course, you will need to be on your game. Queensland, they’re good, really good, but then so can you be.

Never mind that Queensland has a spectacularly good backline. Doubtless it must be terribly daunting to look up and see the Australian backline in front of you. They’re like ants, that lot; knock one out and a whole lot more appear – a never ending supply of attacking pests rich in mayhem and havoc and generously seasoned with endless points-scoring ability.

So what you may well be asking. If not, you should be. Superstar backs can only do their thing if their forwards lay a platform first, and all that.

Led by one of the best go forward men in the game, Paul Gallen, Wednesday night’s encounter is the time to more than break even with Queensland up front, to knock the stuffing out of the banana benders so-called hard men in the middle of the park, taking the wind from their sails, leaving them battered then bruised, and rendering them as useless as the IQ of a Christmas turkey.

Come on, turn your swag on but don’t be too cock of the walk. Show arrogance the door. Believe, be confident – there is a difference.

You do believe? You are confident you can win, are you not?

Oh, you are.

Go on then, prove it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Swiss are famous for many things.

There is their cheese. Then there are their impenetrable Swiss bank accounts, not to mention the wonderful Swiss Miss, Martina Hingis. And, of course, how could we forget Swiss efficiency.

Everything runs like clockwork in Switzerland. This of course leads us to the greatest of all things Swiss, Roger Federer. The veteran has been around now for what feels like an eternity. He has long since been a permanent over achiever. While it took him a few years to start realising that long standing potential, eventually - with the help of his then coach, Tony Roach - the Fed Express came into existence as the superstar in Federer broke through into the biggest of arenas.

From 2004 until the end of 2008 the great man dominated the sport. He was without peer.
The Swiss may be neutral in all things war, yet Federer readily manages to destroy opposition as he blasts his way past a litany of wannabes parading their wares under the guise of being genuine threats. The thing is, you never know when that destruction is coming such is his penchant for calmness. Just when an opponent feels they are getting the upper hand . . . BOOM – the ironic in Federer ups the ante with a tirade of Tennis devastation that respires from the very essence of its indomitable core.

Yep, just when you imagine the unthinkable is about to occur and his foe sense a weakness, bang on time that Swiss efficiency arrives in the form of a killer Federer forehand passing shot to dash the aspirations of the professional tennis masses. Or it could be an ace. Maybe even a topspin backhand passing shot.

It’s never-ending.

That is the problem his opposition have had over the years; the Swiss maestro simply has a weapon for every occasion. When he needs to conjure something magical up, he can and regularly does, just like that. And the bigger the occasion the bigger the impact he has.

That is why, I suppose, Federer was ranked number one in the world for a record 237 consecutive weeks.

He has done it all, you know. Success could easily pass as a worthy substitute for his first, middle and last names.

There have been Grand Slam titles – sixteen at last count, that world number one ranking, and let’s throw in an Olympic gold medal for good measure, in 2008. He has won on every surface, he has been supreme.

All this success for so long yet his desire to stay at the apex of the sport never wanes. He continues to fearlessly surge forth in his pursuit of yet another title. He still does win his share too, much to the chagrin of his fellow pros.

So, go on Roger, give those mere mortals amongst you a chance. After all, gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. Share things around a little.

He did eventually, despite it costing him titles, and valuable ranking points.

Understandably, he was far from over the moon about his demotion from the number one spot. There wasn’t a lot he could do though, for a chap by the name of Rafael Nadal happened upon the scene and dedicated himself to making the Swiss king’s life on a tennis court as unpleasant as is humanly possible. The Spanish up and comer achieved what no other had succeeded in doing: he discovered a weakness in Federer’s game, and exploited it to the max.

With heavily top spun forehands directed to Federer’s backhand, Nadal soon found that Federer could not significantly manage the shoulder high bounce. Passing shots from the backhand side were no longer an option. The Swiss effect had been partially minimised. He had dominated for so long but now his weakness had been exposed and a lack of self-belief soon crept into his persona. No longer did he appear to believe he could win every time he strode onto centre-court.

For awhile the great man lost his way. His attitude under pressure suffered and was not up to its usual high standard on and off the court. Cracks began to appear, but, then, Federer began to fight back. One sign of greatness is the ability to fight back from the bad times.

Sure, he may no longer be the best in the game. In fact, with the emergence of Novak Djockovic he is now number three. More than likely he will never regain the mantle of number one. Still, Federer did come back and add to his tally of grand slam wins.

Not all the time – there was to be no grand slam for him - but, still, Federer made sure he had his moments.

Lesser men may have considered retirement. Not Federer though - he is still competitive.

No wonder his desire appears to be as strong as ever.

It matters not that he is married with children; he still finds time to look after the twins, and practice. We all thought the added family responsibilities would bring him down. But no, Federer just keeps on keeping on.

And here he is, at the ripe old age of thirty, battling it out in tonight’s semi-final against Djockovic. The holder of only one French Open title, clay is not his forte. Yet he never ceases to be competitive at the business end of a grand slam event, no matter what the surface.

This only helps to enlighten the masses as to why he is regarded as the greatest of all time.