September 15th has been an eventful day for the world of sports as the day when England landed in Pakistan for their first tour in 17 years, their former ICC elite umpire from Asad Rauf passed away.
This was also the day when Indian Davis Cup skipper Rohit Rajpal was getting his brigade ready for the upcoming Davis Cup tie against Norway and then the biggest shocking news of the decade came when tennis G.O.A.T Roger Federer decided to hang up his boots after the Laver Cup sending millions of fans into disbelief.
His retirement was yet to sink and listening to Abba’s famous rendition ‘Thank You For The Music,’ and suddenly a message pops up on the phone and it is Mahesh Bhupati who jogs down memory lane and talks about his close association with Federer during the ITPL days, a creation of Mahesh.
It was wonderful to see Federer dazzle the ecstatic fans in Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Stadium. Federer readily agreed to be part of the league and it got Federer close to Indian Fans and he synced in with the Bollywood just as effortlessly as conquering the tennis world.
“It was a dream come true for Indian fans and me personally too,” Bhupathi wrote in his message.
The Swiss marvel is a conjurer and the magic that he weaves on the hearts of millions of his fans is simply outstanding. Apart from playing 1000s of matches, winning trophies like it was child play, Federer has the skill of winning over fans as well. He enjoys fandom like no other and he even turned a non-tennis lover into his die-hard fans.
With an ever smiling face, Federer is the ‘Mr. Good Guy’ of tennis and one can equate him with Rahul Dravid, albeit at the global stage. He never threw tantrums on the court, respected his opponents and never got under anyone’s skin while playing.
He is a gentleman and plays tennis like one.
Part of the Famous Big Three of tennis including Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the perpetual question as to who is the best will not die down so soon especially with the other two still active. But for his fans, there is no argument or second thoughts to it as to who is the best.
Just such is his magnanimity, that in a world of crazy and passionate sports fans, no one hates him no matter how loyal they are to Djokovic or Nadal.
The way Federer plays is like poetry in motion and what stands out in him is his sheer ability to stay calm and composed even in direst of situations is something every human should learn from him and imbibe in them.
He broke stereotypes and showed to the world that you don’t need bling or be eccentric to be a social media czar or rule the hearts of millions of people around the globe.
He shattered the internet when a T-shirt story blazed in an Italian village when he played tennis with two teenagers from Italy.
There are a lot of similarities between him and Rafa as both are good role models and stay away from the radar. They have let their tennis do all the talking and despite being close to the twilight they can give anyone a run for their money on the court. Federer, despite being on one knee at the age of 40, looked effortless on the court and beat players Sonego and Norrie on regulation.
Meanwhile his female counterpart Serena Williams also has charted a story similar to his. In her last days as a professional tennis player, Serena defeated World No.2 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in the US Open, which exhibits the qualities she possesses.
Federer and Williams were born 49 days apart and they have signalled their retirements 12 days apart.
Both these players have won a record number of matches in Grand Slam in single competition with Federer winning 369 matches while Serena won 367. As a matter of fact, both these greats will be inducted in the Hall of Fame, class of 2027.
A sport is measured by statistics and everything else is faceless. And here is a small stat that proves Federer’s greatness. Roger’s average serve motion, from ball toss to racquet contact is 2.3 seconds, while for Djokovic is 8.5 seconds.
Federer is champion not only on the field but off it too and engages in a lot of philanthropic work. He along with his partners have spent $13.5M over the last ten years to build 80+ preschools in Malawi.
With championships, Federer has raked in a lot of moolah as well as he bows out of the game as the third highest earner in terms of prize money in the history of tennis.
Roger Federer is the 6th athlete ever and the first tennis player to hit $1B in career earnings while being active. His extensive endorsement portfolio of luxury brands made him the eighth highest-paid athlete in a year in which he barely played tennis.
Just like the great Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart in WWE, Federer too is “the best there was, the best there will be.”
While Manchester United is done winning against Sheriff, the Delhi rains halted and Abba’s music stopped, time has come for me to shout out to Alexa to play Europe’s greatest of all times ‘The Final Countdown,” because the greatest just deserves the greatest of send offs.
Author is the founder of Indian Sports Fan