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Is Federer the "GOAT"?

 Editorial |  2018-01-01 14:29:19.0

Is Federer the GOAT?

Is Roger Federer the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)? There are many tennis greats who insist he is. Predictably, there are several others who do not agree. Once, the original tennis legend, Bill Tilden, was considered the greatest ever. But that was a very long time ago. Former Indian Davis Cup Captain, Naresh Kumar, once famous for being the partner of Indian tennis legend Ramanathan Krishnan, has been watching Wimbledon since he was a junior player and has his own take. For him, there was no one to equal Pancho Gonzales. This player, of Peruvian descent, was indeed, a class apart. He had played as an amateur for just one year before he turned professional. It is anyone's guess what he might have achieved had he remained an amateur. He was the original serve and volley player and was considered invincible. Indeed, when he returned to compete in his late 40s when tennis had become open, he played the longest match at Wimbledon against the American, Charlie Passarell, and memorably prevailed. Be that as it may, tennis has moved on. The great "Rocket", Rod Laver, who had won all the four Grand Slams twice in two calendar years, was the GOAT until not too long ago. But it was he, who having watched Federer for several years, insisted that the mild-mannered Swiss Champion was the real GOAT. Here is a player who has won 18 Grand Slams, two of them last year after six months of injury layoff. Blessed with a powerful forehand, a sublime backhand and a strong serve, he is the complete master irrespective of whether he plays from the baseline or at the net. Depending on the nature of the game or the match, he can adjust quickly. True though, at 36, he is not getting any younger for a game as demanding as tennis. He isn't the only one though; other comparisons have also been drawn. Admirers of the likes of the Spanish maestro, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the Serb, strongly argue that either carry the palpable potential to take over. Both have won several Grand Slams and the Spanish is on record that he could go all the way. True, both are excellent players and have a few years ahead of them; but both are injury prone too. That apart, Federer has what it takes to draw crowds who support him with maddening enthusiasm. The collective sighs when he misses a point says it all. He is not one to question the umpire stridently or throw tantrums on court. Even when tension mounts, he retains his calm and composure. That is why he is so popular everywhere, even amongst his contemporaries. 2018 would, like previous years, be a challenging one. But having just won at the Harry Hopman Cup, Federer seems all set for an encore both at the Australian Open and at the Wimbledon. He has declared that he would continue playing as long as his body permits him. For all those who love the game being played with such sportsman's spirit, we sincerely hope Federer has a long way to go. Roger Federer has class and class has no substitute.


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