Nature – Bold and Beautiful. Magical and Murderous. Elegant and Everlasting. Regal and Raging. Over the years, I have spent many an hour watching the genius that is Federer’s tennis. I have been inspired by such display of sheer brilliance and I inspired [some would say forced and they may not be entirely wrong] many others to watch the man display his craft with the splendor of an ocean breaking its journey on the sands of a beach.
In his illustrious career, Federer ‘s game has resembled various aspects of Nature. At times it was the beauty of his footwork – taking small and gentle steps to execute, very often, a brilliant shot. Such beauty reminds me of the Niagara as it slowly moves towards the eventual drop and culminates that event in such spectacular fashion. At other times, his icy temperament reminds us of the Colorado at work, chiseling away patiently as it magnificently cuts through layers and layers of rock – much like the Swiss Maestro peels away at each and every layer of his opponent’s strategies.
I remember one of the first times Federer’s game made an impact on me. The 2003 Master’s Cup final in Houston. Here was a match everyone was waiting for. A young buck and a legend of the game, Agassi. They had already played a match for the ages, in the league stages of the tournament. Federer recorded his 1st career win over Agassi with a 3rd set tie-break that had match points for both players. The entire tennis world was waiting for a memorable finale to a year in which the “New Balls” generation sealed the change of guard in our wonderful sport by winning the last 3 slams of the year. Juan Carlos Ferrero at French Open, Federer at Wimbledon and Roddick at the USOpen.
Federer vs Agassi – two of the greatest shot-makers of all time. Two of the most gifted tennis players to have walked this planet. The anticipation was palpable and there was an excitement in the air – the kind of excitement that awaits the coronation of a rebellious up-start who will duel with the king of the sport to claim the throne that everyone wants him to ascend. The tennis world expected a shot-making barrage much like their last match and wanted to see this match go over-time, 5hrs of laser-like ground strokes. Federer’s serve, Agassi’s return. Andre’s backhand, Roger’s forehand. Roger’s forays to the net to close out a point, Andre responding with a immaculately measured passing shot and Roger using his feline reflexes to make a spectacular drop volley. There was excitement in the tennis world, friends!
Before you go ahead and order a DVD of this match, let me tell you the match did not live up to those expectations. What happened? What the eff, happened? My friends, Federer The Force of Nature happened. To quote the writers of Pulp Fiction – “Federer went medieval!!!”. To be honest, Federer did not just go medieval, he went ancient – so ancient, he went all the way to that immediate moment before the Big Bang and absolutely exploded like a Cosmic Universe that had waited a little too long before it decided to expand. As Federer came down on Agassi like a Tsunami, there must have been millions of tennis fans who sympathized with the challenge Agassi was confronted with. Agassi played below par in the 2nd set, but he was playing good “Masters-Cup-Final” tennis in the 1st and 3rd sets.
Agassi, maybe, could have done things better. He could have tried serving harder or mixing up the serve a little more. He might have possibly called on Sampras to play his serve games. Maybe, they could have both played as a doubles team from their side of the net. I don’t think it really would have mattered. It is like ordering a rain-coat or running for an umbrella when a Tsunami is bearing down upon you! Agassi, the great champion he is, gave it everything he could muster. Nature, as we all know, is overwhelming and extremely compelling and relentless. Federer, the Tsunami was in no mood to ease-up on that fateful day. He unleashed a barrage of winners [39, from the stats I gather] from various positions on the court. He served brilliantly and returned with purpose. His forehand was monstrous; his divine single-handed backhand was at its very best. He was gliding on the court like Gods would when they descend on this mortal world. He anticipated Agassi’s moves like a cheetah would when hunting down its prey.
This match has to rank as one of the most seminal moments in tennis history. It was a trailer to the “Roger Federer: A Force of Nature” movie that was out for public viewing since early 2004 and has attracted audience in the millions and rang the cash counters loud and hard at the Box-office of the Sports Cosmos. Since then Federer has made a wonderful journey as a sportsman and as a tennis fan who is greatly inspired by Roger’s genius, I am very glad to have been part of that journey. When you watch him go absolutely ancient on the other gifted tennis players [did it as recently as the Rome quarterfinal with Jerzy Janowicz] – it is like taking a bungee jump into never-ending depths. Such an experience is akin to viewing the impact of a hurricane/tsunami as if we were the propelling these immensely powerful forces of nature – very much like Maverick flies those fighter planes in Top Gun.
Here’s wishing there will be a few more sightings of Tsunami Federer. It is a reason for everyone to celebrate when Federer dons that role. Yes, even his opponents admire that force as it unravels from Roger’s side of the court, and gradually envelops the entire tennis court and then takes over the stadium and spreads rapidly to various parts of the earth and beyond into the cosmos – to conquer new galaxies and the mysterious planets that make them.
–Prakash Potukuchhi [ Founder, sportzcosmos.com You can follow him on Twitter @donaldtendulkar]
11 thoughts on “Roger Federer: A Force of Nature”
‘Force of Nature’ is too strong a title/nickname for a man who possesses a beauty, grace & regality, almost lady like, in this game. I am sure we cud come up with more fitting adjectives.
Somehow, when I think of Roger, ‘Force of Nature’ doesn’t come to mind as much as ‘Nature’ itself. He was jst complete like the Nature, possessing all the elements in their infinite beauty, complimenting each other to form a harmony & balance out the world. Force was but a small part of it. The world stopped to look at him. He jst made the game look so simple jst like greats do and painted the Tennis courts with his silken strokes. Mere mortals like me cannot even sew up a few lines of greatness for the Legend.
He jst has the game.
P.S. All this coming not even frm a fan.
That’s a good point you make! and dont be modest… you made a wonderful tribute to RF’s magic in your post 🙂
Who is your favorite in tennis and also in the list of athletes i put up. 🙂
Awesome article about a legend of the game!
Thanx…but as I said before, I ain’t even a Roger fan. My first superstar in Tennis was Andre Agassi. Jst used to pray for his wins. And I jst dunno why & wen I fell in love wit Pistol Pete. Probably wen he retired and his rivalry with Andre made me realize wat an outstanding champ he was (GOAT for Grass). Liked The mercurial Marat Safin too.
Nxt gen, somehow I nvr was into Roger. Probably becoz he was winning too much & I automatically started cheering the underdog, Rafael Nadal. Once the Djoker started coming thru the ranks, I felt this guy had too much charm not be a fan of. Novak’s my No.1 now, followed by Nadal & Delpo.
But as it happened wit Sampras, I am jst longing to see Roger’s matches, for the inevitability which is creeping in now, for the fear tht I might not be seeing the most beautiful game anyone has played and for sheer respect & grace he has brought to the game.
Sometimes, u don’t appreciate great art wen it’s right in front of you, but long for it the moment it starts to fade. Respect again.
You nailed it! For me it Federer, Djokovic/ Delpo among the current lot. Nadal – tremendous respect for the dude – presently reading his bio, but his game doesn’t have enough variety/shot-making for me. Murray – I like his variety but I keep praying he plays more aggressively!
My tennis affair started with Boom Boom in 91 and Seles/Courier, Pistol Pete, Hingis, Safin, Federer, Henin, Djokovic, Delpotro and now Dimitrov 🙂
I am a hug fan of Gasquet’s backhand too!
Hmm….Gasquet’s one hand back is such class frm t heavens as is Wawrinka’s backhand a force frm hell…
well said! I was fortunate enough to see those 2 in action at the US Open this year. The one handed backhand is a thing such beauty….. I saw even Youzhny and Robredo too – both onehanders, but those 2 got demolished by the more effective doublehanded backhands! Oh also, those 2 players were Rafa and Nole 😉
Am a big fan of Djokovic, but Federer is maybe the best player I have ever seen.
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