Why Roger Federer’s Retirement is unlike others?

Understanding the legacy of Roger Federer

Arjun Ken
7 min readSep 27, 2022
Image courtesy www.wallpaperflare.com/

I was not a huge fan of Tennis until I got to know this legend of legends in Tennis, Roger Federer, back in 2006. For me, Tennis was just another sport that was nothing exciting to watch. After I started watching Roger Federer, my perception of sport suddenly changed, and it has become one of my favourite sports now. Today, seeing him leaving the court where he reigned for almost two decades is not something everyone can digest easily. Tears have meaning and speak his legacy for the next generation.

Well, what is so special about Roger’s retirement? You might think he is just another sportsman saying Good Bye. But that’s not true with Roger Federer. Tennis is a very strenuous and highly technical game in that you must understand the dynamics of the ball and surface and execute shots timing perfectly. Roger Federer was one among those who mastered this sport and landed the balls at his will, not just once but repeatedly. If you place a pop on your head and ask Roger to hit the pop from the other side of the net, he has the talent to smash that pop in just one shot. That’s his specialty. We miss him on the court today.

Swiss Prodigy

Roger was known to be a prodigy in Tennis. He acquired fame in his teenage and early 20s and grabbed many eyes when he played against invincible master Pete Sampras on July 2, 2001. The day when Tennis fans turned their eyes at Roger Federer and asked, “Who is this kid?”. This kid was not a normal kid. He was a Junior Wimbledon Champion and earned his title three years ago. He had won several Futures events in Switzerland before he earned his first International Junior Title. By the age of 18 years and four months, he was world number 64 in the rankings. His winning journey started way back in 1996. A future Tennis star was in the making.

A Man of All Courts

Tennis is played mainly on three surfaces — Hard, Grass and Clay. The surface plays a key role in a player’s success. Not everyone is good at all surfaces. You got to be very good at understanding the dynamics of the ball on the surface and be really good at responding. For e.g., Rafael Nadal is known to be the king of clay and has won many French Open titles. Roger is one of those great players who tamed all the surfaces. He is the only one who has registered at least ten titles on all the surfaces. However, he showed his dominance on hard surfaces, winning 71 titles. Besides, he is one among four players in the history of Tennis to have won a career Grand Slam on all three surfaces. That’s why I call him “A Man of All Courts.”

20 Grand Slam Singles Titles

Winning a Grand Slam title is a dream for many Tennis stars, not just rookies. Many got close to it and retired with dreams unfulfilled. Especially in singles, you have to be a gladiator in the center court colosseum and knock down anyone that comes across. You must get on the opponent's nerves and push to the limit with vengeance and excellence in every shot you play. That’s what made Roger get to the mark of 20 Grand Slams. No joke. It’s a true mastery of Tennis that made him today’s Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovich watched him surpass Pete Sampras’s 16 Grand Slam title and got inspired to go beyond. It was Roger Federer who showed that the sky has no limit. He got 20 titles out of his 31 Grand Slam finals. He was among the eight players who won all four Grand Slam titles at least once. His 20 Grand Slams success has become a milestone for many to reach legendary status in Tennis.

King of Wimbledon

The Wimbledon Tennis tournament is not just a Grand Slam; it is all about Royalty and Pride. It brings tradition and norms built into the game over a hundred years plus. The tournament is played respecting the British royal family, the main sponsors and central spectators. The only court retained the tradition of playing on a grass surface. Winning a Wimbledon title is not just an achievement but also reaching a summit in the Tennis career. Roger has won eight of them in his career, surpassing Sampras’s count of seven. He reached the Wimbledon finals seven consecutive times during 2003–2009, which is not done by other players today. Roger loved playing on grass and stole many British Tennis fans right from the time he won Wimbledon junior singles championship in 1998. The glory of Wimbledon and the pride got better with Roger’s appearance. We should see who will continue this legacy.

Image Courtesy EuroSport.com

Symbol of Composure and Sportsmanship

Unlike other sportsmen, Federer has registered a special image among his Tennis fans. He is quite different than others. He had developed a reputation for composure and sportsmanship like no other. He is known to be the most compassionate Tennis player, both on the court and outside. In Tennis, it is not easy to hold your temper while playing. You probably have seen many players shouting at ball boys, breaking the racquet, fighting the umpire — the most popular scene created by Serena Williams once at US Open, and abusing your opponent — it is all a part of Tennis. Players do that all the time. However, our Swiss prodigy was different. He had established himself as a symbol of composure. He always played the game respecting the opponents and the umpire. He would not go to the extent of lying about a point he did not win it. In 2016, when 772 ranked Marcus Willis lost hope in his career and decided to become a Tennis coach, Federer gave a moment of his life stating that he treated Willis like a top 50 opponent because he played like one. On several occasions, Federer has demonstrated his sportsmanship by letting his opponents take the points though he could have played his best. Though Nadal has outplayed in many Grand Slam finals against Federer, both players are known to be best friends and share a lot of moments together.

The Ace and Forehand Master

Federer is known as an Ace Master. His class, technique, fantasy and spectacular shots attract everyone, including his opponents. In his career, he has hit about 11,300 aces, and 89% of them grabbed games for him. Watch this short YouTube video; you get to know a glimpse of Federer.

No doubt, he had mastered his aces for his wins. Besides, he was also known for his forehand shots. A combination of his forehand shot, and a witty placement of balls in the opponent's court can’t be replicated by others. He had mastered those crazy angles and accelerations with full control over the ball. They are his signature shots that I can’t forget. Although he struggled with the backhand, he had the unique skill of playing in one hand really well. He proved himself with his backhand shots winning the 2017 Australian Open against Nadal. Not to mention his mastery of the net game. He was a player from a different era at the net.

A Streak Freak

When Federer gets into a position, for others, it is a time to break his wins in series. You can call him a trophy freak or addictionist. Once he grabs it, he will surely come back. That’s the kind of mentality he had. Here are some notable ones:

  • In 2008, his record 65 winning streak on grass court came to an end when he lost a game against Nadal.
  • He had reigned ATP top ranking as World №1 for almost 237 weeks
  • He reached ten consecutive and eight consecutive Grand Slam finals
  • On hard surface courts, he has registered 56 consecutive wins
  • He won Grand Slam (winning all four majors in a season) 2 consecutive years from 2006 and 2007. This is huge.
  • He won 24 consecutive tournament finals
  • Many more

An Olympic Star

Federer has probably participated in all kinds of Tennis tournaments. He has not only left his trophy prints in ATP tournaments but also in Olympics by grabbing some bronze, silver and gold medals. He has a record for the longest Tennis match and 13 match wins in Olympics, which is quite an achievement.

Overall, Roger Federer was a long-standing master, legend, and idol on courts who will be missed for many years. He stood as a fusion point between classic Tennis and modern Tennis. I saw his game with my bare eyes at the center court in the 2008 US Open. I was very fortunate to witness one of his masterpiece games. For the younger generation in Tennis, there is a lot to inherit from his legacy and learn what it takes to be a legend in Tennis. I have seen stars retiring in other professions, but I consider this one unlike others. I wish he had played for a couple of more years.

I like this video that compiles some of his best shots:

Thanks For Reading!

The above article presents my views and knowledge I gained reading about Roger over the years. For any reason, the article is inappropriate, contains a disputable matter, or missing any credentials. Please feel free to reach out to me to discuss the matter.

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