THE MAN WHO MOVES LIKE A WHISPER
“Federer doesn’t sweat, he glows.” – Eleanor Preston
“You flood us with joy, Roger.” – an anonymous fan
“I love Roger Federer more than free wi-fi.” – a British fan
“Roger has been approaching incandescence.” –Mary Carillo
“The aura of Federer hovers over the US Open.” – Lloyd Carroll
“Federer moves like a whisper.” – Nick Bollettierri
“Playing tennis in a way that avoids beauty is beyond him.” – Simon Barnes
“His religion is ease. His ethos is, ‘Don’t worry, be Roger.’” – Inside Tennis
“It cannot be long before our dictionary writers are asked to absorb the verb ‘to Federer,’ meaning ‘to demolish with gasp-inducing precision.’” – Sue Mott
“Great sportsmen catalyze our awareness of how glorious it is to touch and perceive, move through space and interact with matter…He somehow coaxes the ball to be still, to hang in space. The yellow sphere seems to pause for a curious half-second, almost still.” – David Foster Wallace
“Roger drifts into an almost dreamlike state. His every move is a beacon of anticipation.” – Bruce Jenkins
“The rage is still there, but it’s buried.” – Mark Hodgkinson
“Federer in decline is better than practically anyone who has picked up a racket.” – The Times of London in 2008
“Ljubicic played Roger the way everyone does, with a good-natured fatalism.” – Mary Carillo
“One thing we players have in common is that we play Roger and we lose…I’m a top-five player, but that doesn’t mean I’m close to Roger.” – Ivan Ljubicic
“Yesterday’s man, the champion of champions, his life now an elegant, elegiac, prolonged farewell tour was suddenly back in full rampaging force…This wasn’t Federer as the purring effortless winner with that ever-so-slightly smug expression: this was Federer recast as a street fightin’ man.” – Simon Barnes after Roger’s loss to Djokovic in the 2014 Wimbledon final
“When he dies…I hope they can preserve him and take a look, because he’s now 35 and he’s out there flying around. He’s quicker than all the kids, he hits harder, he’s smarter, and when it’s over he looks at the fans and says all the right things.” – Bill Dwyre
“This is the most beautiful sight in tennis: Fed in the zone, the dreamy package we’ve seen since 2001. This is Picasso in sneakers – free-flowing and defying gravity. Roger’s no-limits imagination again soars. Fans gasp. His subtle winners and power groundies sizzle. His angles are severe, his drop shots float feather-free. His balance is flawless, his movement poetic. His still-fluid-after-all-these-years sprints are beautiful blurs. He spits at his 35 years. His performance commands – effortless, breathtaking and almost eerie, both powerful and inventive.
“His athleticism expresses a balletic grace. His strokes are songs. And he taps into an almost soothing pool of relaxation, a stillness within the storm of competition, a deep calm that centers and empowers.” – Inside Tennis
“I’ve never seen anybody make a difficult sport look so beautiful…He knows how luminous he looks…[and] how much he’s pleasing people…He loves being Roger Federer. He knows how many gifts he’s got, and knows how to share them. He bends time. He never seems rushed. It would be hard to cultivate a person who walks so lightly on this earth and with such grace.” – Mary Carillo
“Federer plays off of the energy of the opponent…The really good fighters or dancers move away or deflect that energy…[Roger is] so skilled in relaxation, position and balance…It’s a higher consciousness. [Like Baryshnikov or Fred Astaire], he’s not fighting…They understand their bodies so well. They’re extending, getting on point, on balance. They’re moving…They always land with stillness. You have to have a certain still point, a sense of non-panic…It’s a different consciousness…like martial arts people do with their meditation and quietness…Their culture reveres a deep level of inner consciousness. Our society is clueless.” – Steve Stefanki
TEN SIDES OF ROGER FEDERER
1. The debate has subsided. Roger is now widely considered to be the greatest tennis player of all time.
2. He’s an artist – a dreamy player who floats around the court with a silky fluidity and an unmatched athletic grace.
3. Roger’s a loyal husband and says that if his wife tired of traveling, his career would be over.
4. The father of two sets of twins, he speaks glowingly of the joys of parenting and waves to his kids after Wimbledon triumphs. He suffered his knee injury while giving his kids a bath. Some suggest, “Roger is even better at reproduction than the rest of us.”
5. He’s a stud in a black T-shirt – a metro man who’s friends with high-powered fashion editors and has his own logo. He wears hip, sometimes pricey clothes, rubs shoulders with the elite at museum fundraisers and has probably met more celebs than any other non-presidential fellow.
6. He’s an emotional man who openly expresses his feelings – both he and his opponent cried as ten-year-olds. Throughout his career – after both wins and losses – he’s often wept (including at this year’s Wimbledon).
7. The sometimes macho man is also still a delightful boy. We see a man-child in his innocent expressions and playful smiles. He makes goofy videos with his buddies and breaks out in giggles with Nadal. His elfin side still sparkles.
8. He’s a down-and-dirty gym rat with a fierce work ethic. He puts in the hard yards training, which is a prime reason he’s been so healthy.
9. He’s a traditionalist who deeply loves the game, adores legends like Rod Laver and bristles at changes like Hawk-Eye and on-court coaching.
10. He’s our game’s best ambassador, a humanitarian and role model who helps when disaster hits. He’s raised millions to help kids in Africa and is a sublime sportsman who lifts the spirits of fans around the globe.
FAMILY, FRIENDS AND COACHES ON ROGER
“Can you please stop?” – what young Roger’s father Robert said to his misbehaving son, after he stopped his car and thrust Roger’s head into a snowbank.
“Please, take good care of my Roger.” – Roger’s mom Lynette when she first dropped her son off at a local tennis club
“The tears showed how ambitious, how determined Roger was.” – Lynette Federer
“He was really a little devil.” – his sister Diana
“What a ball of stress.” –Peter Lundgren on young Roger
”Fans look at him and know that he’s never trying to be something that he isn’t.” – Roger’s agent Tony Godsick
“I can’t imagine anyone waking up every morning being so content with everything.” – Mirka Federer
AND NOW SOME WORDS FROM ‘THE ENEMY CAMP’
“We are on the earth – he plays on another planet.” – Nicolas Keifer
“Federer has flash, feel, artistry. The advantage I have is just hitting the crap out of the ball.” – Andy Roddick
“The king is dead. Long live the king.” Djokovic’s mother Dijana after Novak beat Roger in 2008
“With Sampras there was a place to get to, there’s no such place with Roger…His foes have to play their best just to stay in the rearview mirror.” – Andre Agassi
“I threw the kitchen sink at Roger, but he went to the bathroom and got the tub.” – Roddick
“I’d like to be in his shoes for one day to know what it feels like to play that way.” – Mats Wilander
“There are no holes in Roger’s game. He has imagination, touch, feel, a sense of the court and a clear vision of how he wants to play.” – Pete Sampras
John McEnroe said, “Roger’s pathologically optimistic” and “painfully relaxed.” John asked, “Does he even have a pulse?” Mac went on to suggest that players should bully Roger, like he and Connors used to do to their foes, or “deny him his creativity and bore him to death by hitting the ball in one spot.”
“The guy is the greatest male athlete of all time” – Serena
THE SPOT-ON DECISION MAKER
No other player makes decisions with more CEO precision than Roger.
At 13, Roger chose to leave home to attend a Swiss tennis academy. When he entered the pros he left his coach Peter Carter, who was a father figure, and chose the more seasoned Peter Lundgren. Since then, Roger has made superb coaching decisions. He chose to be less of a shotmaking phenom who hit crowd-pleasing shots, and more of a match player who was determined to win. After watching his awful behavior on Italian TV he decided to rid himself of emotional indulgences.
Roger chose to marry Mirka Vavrinic, have a home in Dubai, and switch to a bigger Wilson racket in 2014, which helped his backhand enormously. Recently he took six months off after knee surgery and then bypassed the French Open and clay-court season.
He is a master at setting his schedule. His off-court decision making is uncanny. On court, he says, “I never panic. That’s the key…What shot can I hit in that moment and what are the percentages? What can I do in that split-second?”
FEDERER IN HIS OWN WORDS
As a teen he told his meddling parents, “Why don’t you go and have a drink and leave me alone?”
“I’m almost 19-and-a-half.” – when trying to convince Mirka that he wasn’t just a boy
“Young, crazy and wild, ponytailed.” – his description of himself at 19
“I really felt as though I had to please the crowd, but it made me lose.”
“My biggest weakness was [not] to be able to focus every single week.”
“She [Mirka] got me from boy to man…I don’t want to wake up anywhere else but next to her…She doesn’t pull me away from tennis, she pushes me to tennis.”
“Lleyton could. But then again he could run into the knife more brutally.” – Roger on Lleyton Hewitt, who was said to be planning to change tactics after many losses to him
“I’ve already won 12 Grand Slams. Another Grand Slam here or there, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.” – Roger in 2008
“God, this is killing me.” – Roger in the awards ceremony, after losing the 2009 Aussie Open to Nadal
Roger said what he likes about being a celebrity is “being the center of attention and getting to meet famous people.”
“I need the fire, the excitement, the whole roller coaster.” – Roger on playing on the tour
“I have such an unbelievable belief in my game.”
“When you do something best in life, you don’t really want to give that up.”
“Once you find that place of peace and quiet, harmony and confidence, that’s when you start playing your best.”