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One Last Act!
Growing up with your favorite sportsman as he goes through the different stages of his brilliant career does strange things to you. Each generation has its childhood sports idol – the one who makes you browse the newspapers, t. v, the internet and even a radio in places where technology really hasn’t caught up and you’ve unfortunately been held back through no fault of your own to find out what’s going on in that person’s world and then put them in a higher level pedestal than your seemingly more important exam results and other things that, at least in the eyes of your relatives and friends, would consider you a sane soul. (This explanation goes for all the icons of the sport except one Sachin Tendulkar, who by spanning three generations gives a whole new dimension to the word ‘ever-present’. Perhaps that’s why he is called GOD).
The problem with having this sportsman who occupies demigod status in your scheme of things is that you start to possess a bias that doesn’t make you feel guilty at all. For example: my dad takes heed of the Bjorn Borg/John McEnroe era by saying that everything that happened after that in tennis is a tragic parody of the most geometrically and aesthetically pleasing game the world has ever seen. My brother, Pete Sampras’ man through and through, had a hard time adjusting to having a virtual person like Roger show him the way out of his kingdom of Wimbledon in that infamous summer of 2001, which, in retrospect, was akin to the passing of the tennis torch. This fucking gamer has a ponytail and a bandana. Which “champion” dresses like this? Tennis is going to be poorer after Pete. My brother conveys these statements giving me this feeling of losing something unique and something that I could never be blessed to be a part of. About 2 years later – A tennis “Mozart” with a style that is a throwback to the classic ages but mixing it with a modern twist alluding to raw power and precision, then blessing it with grace and finesse of a virtuoso artist becomes my idol, one whose victories, defeats and battles within a battle captivated my senses and filled me with gratitude to see something special unfold before me and coupled with a off-court behavior that made him in a recent poll the second most respected person in the world after Nelson Mandela. . . the Swiss maestro – Roger Federer.
I became his man, my side of the debate when I argue with anyone about who the GOAT is – the greatest of all time (the most passionate ones are reserved for my brother though) and having some experience on the vagaries of “fandom” helped me to be sure of one thing. I will reject Grigor Dimitrov, Bernard Tomic or Jerzy Janowicz no matter what they achieve in the future. No offense meant, in fact, that I would just be the same person as my father and my brother. Only time will tell, because records are made to be broken, and if reluctantly the records of the Swiss will also be broken, which I hope against, I will accept it, but as they say, we will always have a weak for those cases and people who affected you in a particular way in your childhood
Having talent is one thing, making it count is another. Roger Federer did just that and that’s why, after a horrible 2013 by his exemplary standards, where lesser people feel it’s their right to point out to him that he should quit the game before taking the plunge in the depths, none of us would even bear to do so. thinking during his prime, it seems like a gross injustice to tell him what to do. He went from being a young man with a hot, prickly head to the serene, monk-like master illusionist who conjured up moments of the greatest beauty with his tennis racket, to Michaelangelo with a scalpel. His career, on his evidence, appears to be that of someone who made the most of life’s lessons and used them as a basis to claim his claim to be arguably one of the greatest sportsmen. proven on the world stage. . A loss to Tommy Robredo or a Sergiy Stakhovsky shakes things up a bit but it is true that Roger does not intend to end his career this way and in the words of another tennis legend, Pete Sampras , there’s an amateur actor in anyone who wants to put together a final act that will bring the house down. Roger may be feeling this (just a hunch), but as he said in a particular 2008 season when he lost in the Australian Open semi-finals to a promising Novak Djokovic, who was greeted with a shock of seismic proportions, that he could have created a monster with the expectation-filled truck that greets every rustle of his racket.
The following season, he returned with that elusive 1st Roland-Garros title which catapulted him into the elite league of extraordinary gentlemen who won all four Slams, then broke Pete’s Grand Slam record in a marathon duel with Andy Roddick in a Wimbledon final. for the ages. He has returned and certainly will if he feels like it and that is what his recent interviews suggest. . . he is hungry for more. We always count the champions when they are eliminated regardless of that unique separating factor that set them apart from contenders. Their mental strength. Professional sports are more about the battles that take place between the ears than the battle itself. It’s a nice sign when you come across articles from many journalists and critics saying his time at the zenith is over and he should stop trying hard so it won’t make it painful for his followers to see him reduced to a mere mortal but then you see the words of Rod Laver and Pete Sampras, legends in their own right and gamers claiming to be the GOAT, who flatly state that Roger Federer is still not a finished article and something monumental will happen from Roger’s magic wand. They’ve been there and they can sense something simmering under Roger, the outrage at being told what to do with the sport he loves the most, and for him that’s the ultimate driving factor – l love for sports. He recognizes the fact that he will never be greater than the game and it is this overly enthusiastic and zealous attribute of Roger, of the student who unflinchingly explores newer and greater depths of his game, to test himself. against the challenges posed by sport and it’s about various other practitioners, and that’s what the best students do. They will find a way. And Roger is very keen to stand out. No one gets 17 Grand Slam titles and 302 weeks at number 1 without possessing heaps of mental toughness.
The hardest part is making it look easy and I’m sure anyone who’s touched a tennis racket will attest to that. This is where the genius of the Swiss lies. The very thing that makes me hope that for at least a fortnight the Swiss will re-enact a glorious fairy tale race filled with his brilliant backhand all the way (a thing of beauty) and evoking those moments of pure innovation and belligerence coupled with his stunning dominance on the pitch, tactical acumen and mastery of angles, that you thought you weren’t there until he performed the impossible and induced grimaces and it happened from of his opponents, when they felt that the point had already been won and then you wonder why no one thought of it before. It strikes you then – the tennis court is his canvas and we are that privileged and lucky group who get to see a master at work. A glorious epiphany at that too, and when he holds up that Grand Slam trophy, mocking the weather and, more importantly, those doubters who thought his epitaph was pending, it would be a good time for him to step down with style and tone his last piece of an enduring legacy on the tennis court. It’s for two simple reasons – we owe a lot to Roger for giving us so much joy during his time, that he alone should decide his future, and more importantly and selfishly – my childhood needs of this One Last Act epic.
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