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'Forever my idol': A fan's ultimate tribute to Swiss G.O.A.T. Roger Federer

Roger Federer is retiring from competitive tennis next week after the Laver Cup. He has entertained and inspired fans and young tennis stars for over a couple of decades. Here's a fan's honour to the Swiss G.O.A.T.'s legacy.

tennis Forever my idol: A fan ultimate tribute to Swiss GOAT Roger Federer and his retirement-ayh
First Published Sep 16, 2022, 2:52 PM IST

"Roger Federer! Naam suna hua lag raha hai [I think I have heard the name]" was my first reaction when someone asked me about the tennis legend from Switzerland. I don't precisely remember the year, but it was around 2007 when a close friend asked me about him. As for when I heard Federer's name for the first time, it's hard to recall. However, I faintly remember coming across his name in 2005 when he won the Wimbledon Grand Slam for the third time, as I brushed through a local daily back then. But, since tennis was not my favourite sport back then, I did not pay any heed to it.

However, my friend insisted that I should watch tennis since it was one of the most popular global sports. And also primarily for the sake of Federer, as I could be missing out on a golden period of tennis that I might never get to see again. Thus, following Federer's progress for the first time during the 2007 Australian Open (AO), I eventually abided by his request.

As Federer faced Fernando González of Chile in the AO final, I was startled to see the Swiss maestro's free-flowing and flawless tennis as he outplayed the Chilean. It never looked like a final, as Federer wrapped up the championship in straight sets. I immediately dialled up my friend and said, "Bro, was that a final? It was pretty much one-sided." He promptly came up with a bold reply, "Yes, that's how good he is."

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Then, I nearly became a fan of Federer and almost regularly began following his career. Amazingly, he also won the Wimbledon and the US Open the same year, defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia, respectively. At the end of the year, he also seamlessly won the ATP Finals, trouncing David Ferrer of Spain in straight sets again.

From 2008, I was officially and openly a full-fledged Federer fan, as I followed him for the rest of his career thereon. Also, I did read more about him after that. I remember reading about one of his interviews after winning his maiden Slam title during the 2003 Wimbledon Championship. He was asked how his dream of becoming a Slam champion came true with the Wimbledon title.

Surprisingly, Federer's reply to the question was that it was a small part of the dream, while his ultimate dream is far from coming true yet. His response was nothing more than an inspiration for me, which made me realise that having small dreams or goals could only get you short-term success. But, having larger dreams and goals can genuinely get you somewhere, and even possibly to the pinnacle.

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And that's how Federer's career transpired for the rest of his career. From being the world number one for more than 300 weeks to winning 20 Slam titles, the then-most in the Open Era, to shattering records, the Swiss maestro was nothing more than an inspiration to all. Not just me, he had seemingly also inspired the young breed of tennis stars, who we see today dominating the circuit.

As for what I liked the most about Federer, besides his having larger goals, his ability to convert a good return into a classy shot, especially his sensational inside-out forearm shot, was a gem to watch. Even his ability to approach the net at the right time and near-perfectly startle and beat even tough opponents with a winning return was simply sensational to see, which made not just me, but billions cheer and applaud, while the commentators were also in awe of his sublime gameplay.

However, being a Federer fan also gave me quite some heartbreaks. I nearly cried when he missed the gold medal to Andy Murray of Great Britain during the 2012 London Olympics. Also, his lean patch between 2012-17 was painful to watch, while Nadal's consistent dominance over him made me hate the Spaniard, and I somewhat still hate him.

ALSO READ: 'I wish this day would have never come' - Nadal, Serena saddened with Federer retiring


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Later, eventually, Djokovic too began to dominate Federer. However, I did not hate the Serbian since I was mature by then. Also, I felt back then that the Swiss Maestro should call it a day sooner rather than later, exiting the sport with his head held high rather than falling out of favour. Nevertheless, the day he won 2017 Wimbledon and 2018 AO, my joys had no bounds, and it gave me a glimmer of hope that he could continue for a couple more years, as he still has what it takes to thrive at the top level.

Nonetheless, the joy failed to last long, as injury struck him in 2020, and he failed to be a regular on the circuit. Eventually, it came to a point where just watching Federer play became a joy for me. On Thursday, he ultimately called time on his prolific career after being out of action for over a year. As the Laver Cup will be his final ATP event, I desperately hope he leads Team Europe to glory, which would be his ultimate farewell.

Least to say, Federer's retirement has indeed broken my heart. However, I remain glad for the memories he has etched within me and for making my teenage days fill with glories and bliss. Honestly, he changed the game forever, and I find myself lucky to have lived the Federer era so well, alongside the Big Three era, a truly golden period of professional tennis that is unlikely to happen again.



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Lastly, I owe special thanks to my friend, who made me not just a Federer but also a tennis fan. However, I was surprised to learn that he personally happens to be a Nadal fan. Yep....that was a shocking setback that I received. Nonetheless, I respect his personal choice.

Yet, before I conclude, I just want to say from the bottom of my heart, "Thank You, Roger, for everything that you have given me, fans like me and most importantly, to this beautiful sport of tennis. Your legacy will never go overlooked and will continue to rule the sport for generations to come. Tennis is what it is today because of you, and it will never be the same without you. Also, thank you for inspiring me. You will forever be my idol. #ThankYouRoger #RForever".

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