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.

No comments: