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Settling the Greatest Debate

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Picture Credit- Twitter

By winning his record breaking 8th Wimbledon crown at the Hallowed lawns of All England Club at Wimbledon, London, Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer has etched his name in history. Along with his name in history he has now firmly settled the long standing debate – who is the greatest player of all time?

The Swiss maestro deserves a pat on the back for the remarkable self- belief and keeping himself motivated to reach where he is today. After he failed to win a Grand Slam for the last five years ever since reaching the 17th Grand Slam milestone, critics were busy writing his retirement. Some said he had become old and was not sharp like before.
But FedEx did not buy that argument. He stuck to his strict schedule of training and never gave up hope. His commitment was second to none. It was not he was playing badly, it was just that rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic managed to hung on and gave a little extra to deny him a Grand Slam title.

Many former greats of the game who had seen Federer from up- close believed in his ability and said it was just a matter of time he won his 18th Grand Slam singles title. Among those greats include, Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj, in a interview to this writer , when asked about Federer , he had this to say : “As far as adding another Grand Slam to his already imposing 17 is concerned, one can never ever write off a great champion like Federer, even though he is 34. We kept saying this during the phase when he did not add the French Open to his kitty of Grand Slam titles. However, he kept on hanging in there, worked hard on his game and never gave up. And, finally, in 2009, his efforts paid off when he beat Sweden’s Robin Soderling to win the French Open. Hence, he proved many of his critics wrong with this triumph. Federer is truly a great champion and hence, cannot be written off. He still has it in him to win another Grand Slam”.

Now that Federer has won two Grand Slams in 2017 the Australian Open and Wimbledon and raising his tally of Grand Slam title to an imposing 19th , Vijay Amritraj’s observation on Federer was absolutely spot on.
2017 in a sense has seen a great turn- around for not only Federer but also his greatest rival Spaniard Rafel Nadal. Both of them last year battled injuries which put a question mark over their future. Rafa was out of action due to a knee and Federer , too ended his season of 2016 due to recurring injuries to recover fresh for 2017. So two legends were on the same page. And questions started doing the rounds – Will Rafa and Federer be able to win another Grand Slams ahead?

But these two great champions have proved that form is temporary but class is permanent. Roger Federer ended his Grand slam jinx with his 18th Grand Slam title – beating Rafael Nadal in a titanic clash at Australian Open 2017. Rafael Nadal showed with the final – runner up slot that he is not finished yet.

And Rafa proved that he could in the years ahead if fully fit can seriously challenge Federer’s rich haul of 19th Grand Slam titles , as he won his record 15th Grand Slam title this year. That too on a surface he has made it his very own – his stunning French open 2017 win his – 10th . Becoming the first man in history to win 10 French Open titles. Nobody has owned Roland Garros over the years like Rafael Nadal has over the years. And it has been privilege to watch this peerless clay court master.

So what really makes Federer such an affable champion. The Swiss legend has the temperament of Swede’s two legends whom he admires and has the highest regard – Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg ( he was his coach for a while). The shades of Edberg’s classy single- handed backhand is visible in Federer when he too unleashes those lethal single- hand backhands for a classy winner does’nt it.

If one has to be precise and point out why Federer is such a special champions then to me that trait will be that has remained unspoilt by fame and money. Like true champion he has taken wins and losses in his stride and let his racquet do the talking. These are signs of a legend and an all time great if not the greatest – If these attributes are not then what are?

About ARIJEET DUTTA

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File Picture Courtesy : Hindustan Times

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