Freeman Cebu Sports

Elegance and finesse no more

FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus - The Freeman

2022 will remind us of what one of the world’s most famous athletes had accomplished and done to his chosen sport.  Coming from Switzerland, a country more famous for its watches, chocolates, multi-function pocketknives and the Steyr AUG, it has not produced a major sports star.  Until now.

A former ballboy, Roger Federer, as related by former pro Jan-Michael Gambill, “was definitely not the guy you see out there today.  He wasn’t as focused and let things get to him.  He broke racquets.”

In a Tennis Magazine article, it was mentioned that for sometime, there was a strong possibility of Federer to become an underachiever because of his lack of self-control.  He has a short attention span that his coaches resorted to hiring a circus performer to entertain him during pracice.

Peter Carter was one of his coaches that believed in him. But in 2002, upon the suggestion of Federer’s family, Carter took a vaction in South Africa and was killed in a car accident.  Guilt overwhelmed Federer and he did everything to become the player Carter dreamed he could be.  The following summer of 2003,  he won his first major singles title at Wimbledon at the age of 21.  In 2017, at the age of 35, he became the oldest number 1 in ATP history and for a brief time in 2018, the oldest number 1 after winning the Australian Open.

And thru 34 years of tennis, evolving hair styles and 20 Slam titles later, Federer wowed and awed fans with his power and finesse, his calmness under pressure, his grace and sporting manner.  He has that kind of charisma that draws both young and old fans.

Federer, thru his management company TEAM8, partnered with Tennis Australia and Brazilian businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann to create the Laver Cup in 2017.  The invitational tournament usually begins after the US Open, pitting six top Euro players against six of their counterparts from the rest of the world.

We saw the last of the Swiss master play tennis at last week’s Laver Cup when he teamed with Rafael Nadal in a losing doubles effort against Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.  After the match was an emotion-filled goodbye, many, like Nadal, shedding tears.

A few days prior to the start of the US Open three years ago, this old fan had the good fortune of meeting the Swiss great up close and he personally signed the shirt I was wearing.  (see Feel the Game, August 30, 2019).

Nadal and Novak Djokivic and overtaken Federer with 22 and 21 Grand Slam titles respectively but, as tennis.com says, it won’t change the fact that Federer had set new standards for tennis excellence, longetivity and influence.  No matter the number of Slam titles Nadal and Novak will have to collect, Roger Federer will always be my GOAT.

I would have wished to witness one more class act from Federer but late career injuries forced him to retire.  Let’s say goodbye to tennis elegance and finesse.  Roger and out.

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