Federer, the champion

I vividly remember Roger Federer defeating Pete Sampras in the 2001 Wimbledon semifinal. Pete, who was my ultimate sporting hero at that time had won the previous seven Wimbledon titles and was on course for his 8th, when this precocious 19 year old with a bandana strap beat Pete in a heart stopping 5 setter. I recall the last game of the last set and I was so rooting for Federer to lose. Roger won the match and went on to create history in the later years. Though he did not win that year's Wimbledon, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that here was a champion who will make his mark on the world stage.
Roger is now playing for 16 years at the very top level and watching him, is commitment personified. There have been disappointments in his career but they have far and few in his glorious career as a sportsman par excellence.
Roger Federer has never been in the news due to scandal or any infamous episode. He has had a life free from the opulent and indulgent lifestyles of so many world-class icons under the spotlight, instead he has been associated with charitable events and has been a true ambassador for the sport.
Roger continues to make the headlines only for the right reasons. The 17 grand slam titles plus a plethora of other wins could combine many others top and their careers.
He is pure genius. His prodigal backhand has never seen better than the 2017 Australian open and continues to mesmerise the opponents in a demonising fashion.
The best of the best remain completely outwitted, flat footed and overwhelmed with the kind of sublime tennis that Roger is producing this Wimbledon. In the semifinal of Wimbledon 2017, Tomas Berdych was stranded in utter dismay and shock as he covered the net on his left side so that even a cuckoo could not pass through. Federer hit the forehand with the ball travelling all along Berdych in the doubles line about 4 feet in the air and as it crossed the service line curved inwards as if the almighty took the ball in his own hand, landed on the line and sped on. Maradona can claim the "hand of God" for himself but this man is God himself.
The tennis that Roger at 35 is producing has become more menacing and outrageous. It is extremely scary and nerve wracking to any opponent to think of how to face the best man, ever to hold the tennis racket.
Federer will be playing for the 11th time in the Wimbledon final on July 16 and seeking his 18th slam. There are very few sportsmen who are so richly deserving of all the rewards, accolades and applause. Amongst the few who do deserve, Roger Federer towers heads above the rest.
Lastly, the skills and the knowledge of the game, the commitment and time spent in practice, travelling and playing worldwide, would never have been possible without the constant support and the calming presence of Mirka. She has shadowed him over the years and has been the most definitive influence on his tennis. I am sure Roger will admit that he would not be winning half of what he has, had it not been for Mirka alongside him.
Our generation has been fortunate to experience such a sportsman, who seems unreal, in flesh and blood. May God bless his own and most special creation.
- Girish Kotwal, Dubai




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