By Kaveri Waghela

I was unfortunate for almost 4 years that i didn’t know who Roger Federer was. I had heard his name several times but nothing used to interest me only that he had a fancy surname that could pass off for some F-1 racing champ!

So after much prodding by my friend who used to take his name after every sentence, i thought of giving him a chance of my priceless time and attention. I switched over to Star Sports and saw a random Wimbledon match(2006) where he was playing against some funny looking guy called Gasquet. As a beginner attempting to follow tennis, i didn’t understand anything. It was Greek to me. Some random boxes with my fear-NUMBERS!. Well i skipped that part and started searching for the most wanted guy on the planet – Mr Roger Federer. All i could see is this man who was almost eating up his opponent with a smile. That control in his actions, in almost every shot . Chocolate brown hair drooping a little on his forehead and that smile- A smile that could make anyone weak, the game that could kill the opponent. Then i realized this was it, he was Roger, Roger Federer.
There was no stopping then, i watched tennis like a bookie watches a match. I didn’t understand anything but just to watch him play was like a treat to sore eyes. That backhand, the perfect slice shot, those aces when they were most needed. He was perfect, his game was beautiful.It took me a while to follow the basic terms like a a forehand, backhand, dropshots et al but it was all worth it. I can proudly say that it was Roger who taught me tennis and for the good!He won the Australian open that year. The celebration was huge but it soon came to a standstill when he lost the French open. (Damn the French open!). He won the Wimbledon, then the US Open and the following year passed with him ofcourse, winning! And not to forget the numerous awards he got for the best sportsmanship et al.
He was invincible. He was sort of like an immortal in tennis. The tennis legends like Bjorn Borg described him as ‘The New Age King of Tennis’. Everything was perfect except the cursed French open. But that was fine. Nobody conqueres all!. Pete Sampras too never did. Come 2008 and things changed.There was a new person in tennis. Someone who was rumoured to give the King of grass a shiver. He was Rafael Nadal. But its not like Roger played bad, it was just that he was seeing someone so new, so raw. But that someone was taking away his game from him. But unfortunately not his charm. It is universally accepted that the French Open was never for Roger. So i assume he happily gave it to Rafa.(defense mechanisms are always handy!) but in June 2008, the unthinkable happened. Roger lost…no he didn’t win but he tried hard to come from two sets down the game. But the man fought back in the Us Open and bloody well took it! That year he won the Olympics Gold for his country,Switzerland. He never gave up, he never lost.But the press! They almost tried to kill him by their brutal news reports. Roger this , roger that! Dethroned etc. 2009 was worse .He didn’t win again.This time the Australian open.I cried when he uttered,’God its killing me’. The world cried with him. Including the Nadal loyalists.But he came back from his slump and bagged the French(yes the cursed french!) and the Wimbledon.
His game was more than perfect. (i wish i could use a superlative). His shots are like he is whispering sweet nothings to the ball through his racket.To watch him play is like to see poetry in motion. He never throws rackets, never fist pumps, no foul language. Just his game which defines him. A sportsman with sportsman spirit in a true sense. A brand ambassador in himself. A man who doesn’t shy to cry in front of his fans when he loses or wins. A man who maintains dignified silence on his injuries as opposed to other who rave about it for attention. A man who respects the opponent but doesn’t lose the fighting spirit. A man who doesn’t lose his conviction even when he is two sets to love. A man who doesn’t show emotions but knows how nervous he is inside. A man who gives autographs even when he loses. A man who keeps his head high even when the rest of the world is blaming him and throwing potshots at him. Roger is a gift to tennis.It is his throne alone. He is the man,Roger Federer. Period.
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