Roger Federer: In a league of his own

Last Updated: Dec 08, 2011, 22:32 PM IST

Rd. Alexander

In the world of tennis, the debate of “Who’s the Greatest of All Times (GOAT)?” would perhaps continue for a long time to come. There’s Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver to name a few from the past who were considered for the title. And there is Nadal and Roger Federer, whose rivalry has been held as one of the greatest of all times, also considered for the title of GOAT.

Tennis, over the decades, has also seen some dominant players such as Ivan Lendl in the eighties, Sampras in the nineties and Federer in the 2000s. Moreover, players over the decades have set landmarks, thus putting themselves in a league of their own.

However, tallest amongst all of them is Roger Federer of Switzerland, considered by many sports analysts, critics, former and current players as the greatest tennis player of all time. With records such as 16 Grand Slams, 6 ATP World Tour Finals titles and 237 consecutive weeks as the ATP World No. 1, it is hard to say ‘No’ to his claim.

In the Open Era of the tennis world, no other player has dominated the game like Federer does. His style of play has also been considered by many former players as ‘perfect’. To quote the former great Jimmy Connors, “In an era of specialists, you`re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist...or you`re Roger Federer" indicates all ways Federer plays.

As every hero or legend must face a great rivalry to prove his worth, Federer has also faced some of the best in the tennis world. Be it Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Roddick or Hewitt, Federer has seen and faced them all, dominating some, losing to some. Nevertheless, in the course of all these, he has established himself into a league of his own that is way above the rest.

Some might disagree to the fact that Nadal and Murray have better head-to-head record against Federer, especially his so-called nemesis, Nadal; and hence, Federer cannot be the GOAT. But that is to say, who has not seen defeats in life. Be it Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Maradona or Pele, they had seen defeats at one point in their lives. But it is rising up and coming back triumphant from the defeat that sets them apart and this is where Federer fits in. Moreover, who has really seen any tennis player dominate a tournament like Federer did at the just concluded ATP World Tour Finals when in his 30s? Or the way he dominated the game from 2003-2008?

Yes, the young players such as Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Tsonga have age on their side. But what is age without class that Federer has? Moreover, there has been constant debate that age was catching up on Federer now that he is in his thirties. But then again, he proved everyone by winning the prestigious year-end ATP World Tour Finals in London where he was the oldest of all the players.

That is where the class and the league of Roger Federer stand out.

In a world where every opponent has tried to pull him down, he has risen yet and again proving everyone wrong.

And while every game or tournament that he wins is almost a record in the making, his league is extraordinary and beyond the rest in the fact that he was voted and declared to be the second most respected man in the world just behind the legendary Nelson Mandela; a feat no other players has or will probably never achieve.

Federer was also voted the fans` favorite for the ninth straight year at the recently held ATP World Tour Awards 2011 adding the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, voted for by players, for a seventh time in eight years. Heard of any such feat?

Indeed, in a league of his own – Roger Federer.