Roger Federer: My New Hero

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The professional athlete as role model has taken a big hit in the last few years with Bonds assumed steroid use, Michael Vick’s cruelty and stupidity, and  defensive football players for the Chicago Bears either having shootings at their house or crashing their new Lamborghini and leaving the scene of the accident. Even this summer’s feel good story, Rick Ankiel reportedly used human growth hormones.

Then there is Roger Federer.  He has been by far the best tennis player in the world for a few years and may end up being recognized as one of if not the best in history by the time he is through. Tonight he won his fourth consecutive U.S. Open. It was not just that he won but how he won and how he comports himself.

Several times tonight it seemed as if he was being outplayed by 20 year old Novak Djokovic. Yet at every key moment, including 5 set points on Djokovic’s serve in the first set, Federer hit the big shot. He never let the pressure stop him — and there was tremendous pressure from his opponent’s shots and from Federer’s march on history.

Roger had to deal with strong play throughout the tournament. In the quarterfinals Roger had to weather Feliciano Lopez playing out of his ass in the first set. He played nearly flawless tennis in that set as Federer could only watch and wait. He knew that Lopez was unlikely to keep up that level of play and he did not panic. Instead he took the next three sets to win the match.

It is this composure under fire and the unwillingness to give up that I admire greatly. Even more than the grand slam titles that these characteristics have brought to him. (Even more than the $2.4 million and the new Lexus he won today.)

He showed his humanity and class today as well. He gave tribute to the great play of his opponent. (No Serena Williams saying her opponent hit lucky shots.) He also admitted that he has been nervous. While most people assume that given how many times he has been in the situation he would be used to it, he said that every grand slam final feels as important as the first.

There are no known incidents of public drunkenness, casting slurs, taking drugs or any of the “normal” activities we have learned to forgive of our star athletes. Maybe the Swiss do a better job of instilling values than parents do here.

I just hope that I can learn to be more like Roger and that I get many more opportunities to watch this world class athlete and human being.

About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

3 Responses to Roger Federer: My New Hero

  1. Frank says:

    I just watched the highlights on ESPN this morning. Wow, what perseverance. Amazing. You’re right about this one…it’s hanging in there that matters…talent and perseverance together…you got it.

  2. 48facets says:

    Frank you are right in that talent plays a material role. However, I can learn perseverance while I cannot make myself more talented. That is probably why riding long distances appeals to me.

  3. Frank says:

    I wish I could find that quote right now, but it’s something about how persistence is everything…it’s staying on the field five minutes more, etc. Yes, I think the really great ones have that…it’s not all about being the most creative or the most outlandish (although we all exhibit those traits when we need to), but it’s hanging in there that matters most to me.

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