Roger Federer, a genius who made tennis look effortless

But, like Serena Williams, Federer changed the expected arc of a tennis player’s career. In his fourth decade, he continued to accumulate titles and break records, consolidating his supremacy. In their fifth decades, they were both, incredibly, still around.

While his longevity allowed us to appreciate his talent, savor every tournament and every passing year, it lulled us into a false sense of security, believing that he would always be there. , even long absences due to injuries in later years. They will be back. They always came back.

Federer won his first of 20 Grand Slams in 2003, at a time when people were excited by the latest Nokia phone, and before the US and Britain went to war in Iraq. A professional career spanning 24 years, Federer had become a constant in our sporting lives. While we were all — quietly and slowly — growing old, there was Federer still playing, still winning, still defying time, tricking us into believing he wasn’t. So the world has changed and neither have we, That Very

But on Thursday — two weeks after Williams is expected to play. Last professional match — We are forced to admit that we are entering a new era.

“I must admit that the time has come for me to end my competitive career,” Federer announced, announcing that he would call time on his career after next week’s Lever Cup in London.

“I’ve worked hard to get back into full competitive form. But I also know my body’s capabilities and limitations, and the message has become clear to me recently.”

The Swiss has not played competitively since last summer’s Wimbledon, after undergoing a third knee operation that ultimately forced one of the most incredible tennis careers to end without flourishing. Maybe he deserved it.

Federer was the first man to claim 20 Grand Slam titles. Still, no other man has won as many of his eight Wimbledon titles, played as many (429) or won as many Grand Slam matches (369). He leaves the game with 103 titles, second only to Jimmy Connors in the Open Era, and more than $130 million in prize money.

During a five-year stretch at the turn of the century, when he won 12 of 18 Grand Slams, Federer redefined the meaning of tennis excellence in the men’s game.

Many of the standout records he set have been broken by Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, other great talents who would later come to dominate the last 15 years of the game’s Golden Age.

Federer spent 310 weeks as world number one. Djokovic has surpassed that feat. Nadal now has 22 major titles, Djokovic has 21.

All of Federer’s records are likely to be broken one day, but the numbers show only a fraction of Federer’s genius. A Google search of his stats doesn’t explain his greatness or his appeal. This is the man who has won the fans’ favorite award at the year-end ATP Awards for 19 years.

The rivalry between Federer and Nadal will go down as one of the greatest rivalries of all time.

Federer is admired not just because he won, but the way he won, the way he played. No one was blessed with a court like him. Will we see the like again? Perhaps, but it will be some players.

Has there been a better forehand in the game? A sweet backhand? A more effective service? Williams’ serve is widely regarded as one of the best, at least in the men’s game. Has anyone ever played a game with such beauty?

How was “It’s Like a Symphony.” Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams’ coach described Federer’s style a few years ago.
Roger Federer inspires global devotion like no other player.

“No one will ever play tennis like this, impossible. It’s just perfection. The movement, the timing, everything is perfect and it’s unbelievable.”

Noted author David Foster Wallace wrote in his 2006 New York Times article, “Roger Federer as a religious experience“, describing Federer’s forehand as a “great liquid whip”. Wallace explained that the intelligence of Federer’s game was lost on television.

Federer was a teenager when the article was written, but already, at age 25, he was being talked about as not the greatest of all time, and not just by Wallace.

There were certainly good players on tour, but none to match Federer’s consistent shot-making and on-court intelligence. He was so good.

Six years before Wallace’s article was published, no one thought Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slam titles would be broken — then came Federer, later joined by Nadal and Djokovic to form the “Big Three.” went

Now, of course, there are those who will argue that Nadal has proven that he is the greatest player of all time or that Djokovic is a better all-rounder. Maybe, maybe.

Federer's forehand is widely regarded as one of the best shots in tennis.

The balance of power may have shifted, but what cannot be denied is that neither Nadal nor Djokovic are as aesthetically pleasing as the Swiss.

Watching Federer play in 3D — and there’s still time to talk about his style in the present — is mesmerizing. It was, alas, a special one I was there A moment that can be told, and re-told, to grandchildren or anyone. No one has ever made the game so easy at the highest level.

The annals of sports history will place Federer alongside Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods and, of course, Serena Williams. Game Changers All those who transcended their sport, who will be talked about for years after retirement, who inspire one generation after another.

Tennis is entering a new future. Federer will soon retire, Nadal, at 36, is unlikely to play the age of his friend and rival, with a history with injuries, and Djokovic, at 35, is still much older. Titles are collectible but age does not diminish. .

We knew it would happen one day. But, as we know, adjusting to change takes time.

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