Federer: The Chronicles of an Old King
The Beginning of a Journey
It was in 1998 when one of the most naturally-gifted and versatile tennis players of all time turned pro. Federer was the International Tennis Federation’s Number 1 Junior at the time. It took him five years to reach his true potential by winning his first grand slam title at Wimbledon in 2003.
The Rise and Period of Domination
During one of his interviews, Federer admitted how much of a positive impact that victory at Wimbledon had on him. He described the moment as opening the floodgates for him. From 2004 to 2007, the tennis world saw a level of dominance that was unprecedented. Federer won an incredible 11 majors out of a possible 16. During his four-year reign at the top of men’s tennis, he set records that may never be emulated or broken for the foreseeable future. This includes 237 consecutive weeks at No.1, 23 consecutive grand slam semifinal appearances, and 36 grand slam quarterfinal appearances.
The saying that all good things must come to an end holds true for Federer. In 2008, after a bout with mononucleosis, his performance as a tennis player dropped quite a bit. Even though he reached one semifinal and three finals on the grand slam stage that year, including a match for the ages against Nadal at Wimbledon, he was only able to win one major, which was at the US Open. He finished the 2008 season as world No. 2. in the ATP rankings.
The Second Wind
The following year, Federer was able to regain the No. 1 ranking and realize his lifelong dream of winning the French Open on his eleventh attempt. He completed his career grand slam, thereby becoming the sixth male player in tennis history to accomplish the feat.
He started 2010 by winning his 16th grand slam title at the Australian Open. However, the rest of the year turned out to be below par. He was able to turn things around by winning titles at the Stockholm Open, Basel Open, and ATP World Tour Finals during the Indoor Hard Court Swing.
New Rivals and Period of Struggle
From 2011 to 2014, barring a brief stint at the top spot in 2012, a post-prime Federer was overshadowed by the fierce rivalry between Nadal and Djokovic. After Nadal sustained a back injury in 2015, Djokovic became unstoppable and started winning titles at an unbelievable rate. He finished the season with a tally of 11 titles. This included three grand slams, six masters series tournaments, and the ATP World Tour Finals. During this period, Federer was the only player who presented Djokovic with any sort of challenge. Their record against each other that year was 3-5 in favour of Djokovic. This included big wins over Federer at the finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open.
The first half of 2016 was all about Djokovic as he continued his onslaught by collecting titles at every single major tournament on road to the French Open. The ruthlessness with which he was steamrolling through his opponents made everyone believe that a calendar Grand Slam was a possibility. There was strong potential now that all of his closest rivals, namely Federer, Nadal, and Murray, posed no threat to his rule.
Injury and Uncertainty
However, an unpredictable twist of fate took place when the second half of the season saw Federer and Nadal take time off of the tour to recover from their respective injuries. Djokovic began to lose at almost the same frequency as he was winning. Djokovic’s loss turned out to be Murray’s gain as he started dominating the tennis world and finished the year at No. 1 for the very first time in his career.
The Resurgence and Hope for the Future
After being on the sidelines for the past six months, Federer started 2017 with Ivan Ljubicic as his new coach. The expectations for him were modest at best. However, against all the odds, he surprised everyone, including himself, by winning his first grand slam title in five years at the Australian Open. He then went on to win at Indian Wells and the Miami Open back-to-back, an accomplishment known as the Sunshine Double. In doing so, he defeated his nemesis Nadal for a fourth time in succession for the very first time in his career.
At the age of 36, Federer has completely reinvented his game by properly adapting to a larger racket, greatly improving his backhand, and bringing ultra-aggression into his style of play. For this great champion, the dream continues and the possibilities seem to be limitless.
© 2017 Lily