Difficult Steps Roger Federer Takes to Make His Dream of the Eighteenth Grand Slam Come True

Photo: Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia

Roger Federer is back; after his six months away from the world’s highest level of tennis competitions, watching him play is not only wonderful and unmissable but also accompanied with big challenges for him. Has he met the expectations of his coaching team and is his return and recovery from injury and succeeding in making his way to the first semifinal of a great competition such as a grand slam a warning to the younger generation of aspiring tennis players?

In recent years, we have witnessed the coming of great many promising tennis players in the world’s highest level: Grigor Dimirov, who is called Baby Federer, the German Alexander Zverev who has challenged many great players during the years of absence of his older brother, Mischa, or even the Belgian David Goffin, whose performance has not admittedly matched the success of other names mentioned here. Even though many pundits believed Federer’s time is more or less over, he went on to shine in the ATP Tour and overcame the tough obstacle of analysts opinion at the age of thirty-five. Nevertheless, there are still those who have started the countdown until his farewell to the tennis world.

After his return to tennis, Roger has once more impressed everyone in the Australian Open. He is now thirty-five, and has been competing in the world’s top level tennis for nineteen years –an achievement which seems dreamlike for any other sportsman. Regardless of everything, he has proven his strong will as he desired. Brave and skillful inside the court, he has silenced his critics during different phases of his career, and he carries on to do so. If one asks whether he is among the handful of the most elite sportsmen of history, a “no” answer would be far from fairness as he has managed to end up amidst the top four players in Australia’s grand slam in a very limited time; a winding path which he left behind with ease.

Now, Federer should face his all-time friend, Stan Wawrinka; he shared the best moment of his life with Wawrinka when they stood atop the Olympic podium and received the gold medal for their championship in the doubles. Their fruitful friendship persisted throughout years of their professional and sport careers. Let’s say with certainty that they are best of friends outside the court and worst of foes inside it; as Roger has already warned Stan: “Stan needs to prepare himself for a breathtaking match against me.”

It must be said that Federer plays beautifully, even in the eyes of his critics. Two years ago, he was attacked by Boris Becker because of his SABR tactic, but he paid no heed to criticisms and taught a new method for striking toward the net to the new tennis player generation; an experience which was resulted from his short-term collaboration with the Swedish Stefan Edberg who had a remarkable impact on Roger’s spiritual and technical recovery after parting ways with Paul Annacone. Nevertheless, when Ivan Ljubicic replaced Edberg, these changes entered another phase, and, along with Severin Luthi, Ljubicic turned over a new leaf in Federer’s career.

By winning his eighteenth grand slam, Federer will put his name eternally atop the list of tennis legends; a look at the match schedules shows that Federer is only two matches away from this accomplishment. It is tough, but possible. He has always taught us that one should never give up his hopes for victory even at the height of disappointment and failure. Failure and victory are separated only by a narrow line; one needs to recognize this line if one wants to travel tough distances correctly.