On Matters That Matter

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones

In admiration of Roger Federer

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There is this funny anecdote that effectively drives a serious point home. A man well over 100 years was asked the secret of his long life. The old man thought for a while, and then replied that I think it’s because I’ve had many many birthdays.

Longevity is perhaps the toughest to maintain at the top level of any sport and is therefore the yardstick for measuring greatness. The players who do it year after year, at one Olympic and then the next do not share their place in history with those who quickly melt in the immense heat of the arena. Any cricketer who has played over 100 Tests can tell about the feeling of satisfaction that comes with having lasted that long.

I wonder what Roger Federer would say if he was asked the secret of his amazing career? Yesterday he strolled past Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2 6-2 6-4 to enter the third round of Wimbledon. Raphael Nadal, his nemesis throughout last year, didn’t make it to the semis in Paris and is out of action in Wimbledon due to a knee injury. In his own way Nadal too is carving a place in tennis history, but that can wait for now and be a subject for another post.

By Federer’s standards, last year was the worst that he has had till now; it started with a semi-final exit at Melbourne and then a crushing defeat in Paris clay, where Nadal blasted him out in straight sets. Then it was the unbelievable match that Nadal and Federer produced in Wimbledon, and in fading light Nadal prevailed 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7. Roger said in broken sentences, ‘the worst opponent, but on the best court’. Federer won the last slam, the US Open, by beating Andy Murray; who had accounted for Nadal earlier. …

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Written by Deepan Joshi

June 25, 2009 at 12:10 pm

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