Roger Federer; The Greatest Player, Winner & Loser
You can’t discuss the greatest tennis players of all time without including Roger Federer, and the amazing thing is, he’s still playing. 20 Grand Slam titles, 27 Masters titles, plus another 53 others, as well as a Gold medal, a Davis Cup win, Fed Cup wins, and over 300 weeks as world number 1, Incredible.
After Federer’s defeat to Dominic Thiem at the Indian Wells final, fans couldn’t believe that Federer was actually smiling when he embraced Thiem at the net. It shows real sportsmanship to be happy for a player, who has just beaten you in a $1.3 million match, and the true class of Federer.
As much as we always focus on the titles and the victories, you sometimes forget about the losses. Federer has won just under 1200 ATP matches, but he has also lost over 250. For you math wizards, it means he wins 78% of his matches, which is an incredible stat. But it means he has still walked off the court over 250 times knowing it didn’t go the way he wanted it too. David Ferrer, a player similar in age to Federer, and who has achieved great success, has lost only around 100 matches more in his career than Federer. When you spread that across 20 years, its only an extra 5 defeats a year. So as much as his successes are phenomenal, he does suffer defeat similar to everyone else, and as any athlete can tell you, it can be very hard to recover after some of those losses.
In 2015, Novak Djokovic had one of the greatest tennis seasons in history. They faced each other in 7 finals that year, with Novak winning 5, Wimbledon, the US Open, the Italian Open Masters, the Indian Wells Masters and the ATP Finals. The year before, he had already defeated Federer in the Wimbledon final. Federer was losing again and again, to the same player, on the biggest stages in tennis. They say being the runner up can be one of the hardest places to be. The night before the final, you imagine being the winner, but then the night after, you can only try and contemplate what went wrong.
Federer has experienced this constant defeat to another player, Rafa Nadal. By 2009, Federer had won 3 of the 4 grand slams, amassing an already impressive total of 13. The one he was missing however, the French. He reached 3 consecutive finals between 2006 and 2008, losing to Rafa every time. In 2009, Nadal lost to Robin Soderling, giving Federer his French title. In 2011, Federer reached the final again, but couldn’t conquest his old Spanish rival. 15 times these 2 have faced off on a clay court, only twice has Federer won.
People would say that all the winning would make those few defeats bearable, but anyone who understands the highly competitive nature of any elite athlete, to suffer any defeat, especially consecutive defeats, are very tough to handle. What is most impressive about Federer, is the way in which he accepts those defeats. After Federer’s defeat to Dominic Thiem at the Indian Wells final, fans couldn’t believe that Federer was actually smiling when he embraced Thiem at the net. It shows real sportsmanship to be happy for a player, who has just beaten you in a $1.3 million match, and the true class of Federer.