Sachin Tendulkar calls it quits, while Roger Federer marches on
If you are not winning grand slams, even being Roger Federer doesn`t help. No matter how much you have done for the game, or that you are a legend, if the form is gone, pressure starts building. The `R` word starts hounding you. They pester you, badger you, till you one day, you call it quits. The day you retire, suddenly all the love comes back. Fans cry, mourn your departure, sing your glories, and you are a closed glorious chapter of the sport. Sachin Tendulkar knows this. Federer is yet to.
Ask Sachin, how is it, rather was, to live under such pressure over the last two years. When India won the World Cup, Sachin was asked about retirement. When Roger Federer won his 17th slam, he was asked about retirement. Tendulkar, in 2013, finally called it quits. But despite having a poor 2013, Federer decided to keep going, looking forward to more tennis in 2014. Sachin got the hint that the time had come, while Federer after a performance below his own standards, still wades his way to the next season.
It must be weird to face the same questions day in and out. So, when is the right time to retire? At the peak of one`s career, or after a series of not up-to-the mark performances? What should win - the passion and desire to play the game, or the statistics? Roger Federer, perhaps is the greatest tennis players of all times. It would not be an exaggeration to call him even the greatest. But of late, particularly in 2013, his performances have fallen to an all-time low.
In 2013, he played 62 matches, out of which he won 45 and lost 17. He saw many firsts this year. He was beaten by Andy Murray in Australian Open semi-final in January. He lost to low ranked Julien Benneteau in Rotterdam quarter-finals, breaking his own record run of 28 consecutive last-eight wins against players outside the top 10. He went to the French Open without any title for the first time since 2000, lost there to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
At Wimbledon, probably came the worst defeat of his career. Sergiy Stakhovsky, then world number 116 defeated him in the second round; perhaps his only claim to fame will be defeating Roger Federer. This also brought the Swiss Maestro`s earliest exit at a grand slam since losing in French Open in 2003. He subsequently lost to relatively unknown Federico Delbonis in Hamburg, a tournament he in his prime did not even consider participating in. In the US Open, he suffered a straight sets defeat by Tommy Robredo, a player against whom he had 10-0 win-loss record prior to that match.
In ATP World Tour Finals, he struggled for qualification only to lose to Rafael Nadal in the semi-final to end his year with a loss. His only title came at lowly Halle, where he won his 77th career title to tie with John McEnroe at number three in open era title winners list.
His strategies also were not working in his favour. He split with his coach of three years - Paul Annacone. The dimensions of his racquet changed, but that too did not help him recreate his old magic.
By the season end of 2014, Federer will be 34. His shot selection was questioned every now and then. He is a glimpse of his own self. Wonder how it feels like being compared to one`s own self! So, when you are Sachin or Roger, who are your biggest competitors, your own old self !
Now that he has drawn curtains to his glittering career, Tendulkar won’t have to face anymore questions regarding his retirement.
On the other hand, since he is still a part of competitive tennis, Federer will either need help of a grand slam win or so to shut his critics up for a while, or maintain `Tennis is in my DNA` stand till he finally bids adieu.