Friday, September 08, 2006

Split Loyalty

Morning when I switched on TV for the US open, Blake and Federer were playing with the third set tie-break at 3-3, and Federer 2-0 sets up. Then for the first time in my life I willed Federer to lose points, so that I could watch him play another set. There was so much conflict inside me when the rallies were going on, with the "Black bloke Blake unable to finish the tiebreak". Prolonging it , but prevailing at 11-9. Then before you could say Roger, I had switched sides. Admiring the phenomenon as he went about pummeling Blake, and finally winning the fourth set and the match.
Such instances of split loyalties are very rare for me. When I was a kid I saw no point in watching a game without giving support to one side or the other. I had to pick sides even if it was with the throw of a dice.
I had no concept of enjoying the game by admiring the performances of both the sides. I would be befuddled if someone told me that he was not supporting any of the teams. For any major cricket or football or tennis tournament I had a mental ranking of favourites, so I always knew whom to support.
But from my college days onwards I started appreciating the game of both the sides. Learnt to be a neutral or even if I do support a side I see the good points in an opponents game, and I have started enjoying the game more but the passion of the earlier days is gone.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Roger Federer

Following is the text of a small persuasive 2 minute speech that I had to give as part of a Communications course that I had taken in IIM Lucknow. (It was before 2006 French Open).
Is Roger Federer “The Greatest Tennis Player Ever” ?

From the land of chocolate, cheese, banks and the Alps comes a phenomenon
He has 7 Grand Slam wins in last 3 years. Never lost a Grand Slam Final (proven wrong at the French Open 2006).
World number one for last 2 years, and no one near him by a long shot.
Also named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year in 2004, edging out the likes of Michael Schumacher, and Lance Armstrong
So is he the greatest ?
His Game::
He doesn't really have a weakness. He plays well on all surfaces, he has an unique record of three consecutive tournament wins in different surfaces: grass, clay, and hard court.He is comfortable from the back of the court, he's comfortable at the net. Sublime backhand, mesmering forehand, quicksilver returns, versatile serve.Graceful, elegant and fluid movements - a symphony in tennis whites

Some doubts raised about his greatness are that
First he hasn’t won the French Open and second there is no real challenger to him.
What I retort to that is: he has it in him to win the French, he already has 6 titles on Clay, and has beaten lot of clay-court specialists. Reached semis last year (also the final this year).
Safin, Hewitt, Roddick all were in reckoning as the next stars of world tennis, but advent of Federer has put paid to their hopes, shade unlucky to be a contemporary of the best tennis has ever seen

Let us hear what some of the other Tennis Greats have to say about him::
"Oh, I would be honoured to even be compared to Roger. He is such an unbelievable talent, and is capable of anything. Roger could be the greatest tennis player of all time." - Rod Laver, winner of 11 Grand Slams.

"He's the most gifted player that I've ever seen in my life. I've seen a lot of people play. I've seen the Lavers, I played against some of the great players - the Samprases, Agassis, Beckers, Connors', Borgs, you name it. This guy could be the greatest of all time. That, to me, says it all." - John McEnroe

"There's probably not a department in his game that couldn't be considered the best in that department. You watch him play Hewitt and everybody marvels at Hewitt's speed. And you start to realize, `Is it possible Federer even moves better?' Then you watch him play Andy [Roddick], and you go, `Andy has a big forehand. Is it possible Federer's forehand is the best in the game?' You watch him at the net, you watch him serve-volley somebody that doesn't return so well and you put him up there with the best in every department. You see him play from the ground against those that play from the ground for a living, and argue he does it better than anybody." - Andre Agassi.

No top of that he is a humble down to earth guy, a role model, he also invariably becomes emotional and breaks down into tears after every Grand Slam win. His favorite quote is “It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice”
So people next time there is a Federer match on TV, just watch it, you would be then be able to tell your grandchildren proudly that you saw the greatest tennis player live in action.