by Shankar Narayan
Roger Federer won the Brisbane International on Sunday, defeating Milos Raonic 6-4 6-7 6-4 in the final.The victory was significant for the Swiss for another reason, that was the 1000th victory of his career, and he joined two more players- Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl in the 1000 wins club.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony after the historic win, the 17-time Grand Slam champion said that it was an unforgettable moment for him and to achieve it in front of legends like Rod Laver made it even more special.
"To get to 1,000 wins in front of you two greats means a lot to me. I'll never forget this moment," Federer said.
Legends full of praise for Roger Federer
It has been a long journey for the Swiss, having turned pro in 1998 at the age of 17. He won his first Grand Slam in 2003 and that proved to be the turning point of his career. Following that win, there was no stopping the man from Basel and he soon marched his way towards greatness.
Pete Sampras, whose record for the most number of Grand Slam was broken by Federer in 2009, feels that the support staff for a player is as important for him as his form, as the years go by. The 43-year-old also adds that a player’s ability to win matches when he isn't in best of forms, also counts for a lot.
“To be the best, year-after-year, takes a good team of support with coach and trainer. It’s having to play through times when you aren’t playing well and trying to find a way to win those matches you have to win,” Sampras said.
Calling the achievement “rare”,8-time Grand Slam champion and former coach of World no.6 Andy Murray, Ivan Lendl says that getting to a 1000 wins is an indicator of the consistency shown by the player over a long period of time.
“You work hard and prepare hard to play consistently,” Lendl said.
“I remember when I played over 100 matches per year in the 1980s and never thought about it. Obviously, getting to 1,000 wins is more difficult than it seems. It’s really rare. But I looked at it as a by-product of winning so many matches and being consistent for that long,” he added.
Federer’s high fitness levels have played a key role in his success
Australia legend Ken Rosewall, who won a total of 1000 matches across 3 eras- Amateurs, Pro and the Open, feels that Federer’s desire to compete and his ability to maintain high fitness levels over a course of time have enabled him to play on the competitive circuit for a longer period of time.
“By staying healthy and injury free, you can stay in good shape,” Rosewall said.
“He maintains his desire to play, because he loves to compete. For what he has achieved, Federer competes with a lot of pressure. He is one of the icons of tennis,” he added.
Credit to Stefan Edberg
His fellow countrymen, Rod Laver believes that Federer’s “anticipation, strategy and fitness, along with being able to play on all surfaces” are the key reasons for his success and also adds that Stefan Edberg has played a key role in Federer’s re-emergence in the game. The Swiss hired the 3-time Grand Slam champion in January 2014.
“Stefan has been a great help, giving Roger a little more confidence at the net, and where to place your volleys. Federer looked to improve an under-used aspect of his game in order to prolong his record-breaking career,” Laver added.
Federer has a unique style of play
The one thing that has been characterised with Federer throughout his career, is the calm manner in which he has gone about his business. With Rafael Nadal, the hard work he puts in during the match, is clearly visible for one-and-all. Novak Djokovic has also been noted to get a bit flustered when things aren't going his way.
But the Swiss legend has always looked composed during the course of the match, regardless of the position he finds himself in. There has always been a sense of tranquility in the way he has played the game.
Federer’s legacy goes beyond the tennis courts
Whenever it is time for Federer hang up his racquet, his legacy won't only be restricted to his exploits on the tennis courts. The 17-time Grand Slam champion has been actively involved with UNICEF and was appointed the organisation’s Goodwill Ambassador in 2006. He also opened the Roger Federer Foundation in 2003, that aims at providing education for underprivileged children and give them access to sports.
Federer is now 33 and has won almost everything there is to win in his decorated career, barring an Olympics singles gold medal. He came close to winning it London in 2012, but, unfortunately, lost out to home favourite Andy Murray in the final and thereby had to stay content with a silver.
The Rio Games next year provides him with yet another opportunity to win that elusive medal and there’s no doubt that he would bring his ‘A’ game out at that time.
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