Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Roger Federer: My vote for GOAT

So much has been written about Roger Federer's victory at the French Open, there's little left to add. I'm going to take the easy approach by quoting from the inimitable Bobilli, to whom I have devoted an entire post back in April. In Monday morning's Times of India, he writes, "Oh yes, Federer does not have the smouldering serve of a Sampras, the booming return of an Agassi, the allround play of a Borg."
Hold on, did he mention the 'allround' play of Borg? Bjorn Borg was one of my childhood idols, but even his most fanatical followers would not consider him an 'allround' player. In his early days, he approached the net with about the enthusiasm of a man with toothache approaching the dentist's chair. Later on, he learned to get volleys over the net more often than not, but he never pounced and put them away with conviction.
If one quality marks Federer out from those who are bracketed with him in lists of the greatest of all time (GOAT), it is his excellence in every department of the game. Jimmy Connors is the only other player I can think of with similar all-court ability, but his weak serve compromises his claim to be the GOAT.
Federer's all round ability is proven by his astonishing record in Grand Slams: 20 consecutive semi-finals. That, I believe, is a feat nobody will ever beat. It requires enormous talent, of course, but also incredible consistency, fitness, and commitment. Sampras was barely competetive at the French, Borg burned out at 26, and Nadal's picked up his first serious injury at 22. Whatever Bobilli may say, it is for his all round capability that Roger Federer has my vote for GOAT.

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