Roger Federer is undoubtedly one of the greatest sporting icons of his generation. However, the time of retirement for the Swiss is approaching and that is why Christopher Clarey has wanted to publish the most complete work ever written on the man with 20 Grand Slam titles.
Posted yesterday at 8:00 am
“Good morning, how are you?” replied Mr. Clarey when we contacted him by phone in Rome. He had just completed a post-match interview with Bianca Andreescu. “She looks good. It must be fun for you to see her play again! »
The entire interview took place in Molière’s language. journalist in New York Times, Christopher Clarey had the opportunity to travel the world. Assigned to tennis coverage for 30 years, he had the opportunity to perfect his French, which today is close to perfection.
Three decades in which he also had the privilege of closely following and rubbing shoulders with Roger Federer. Which culminates today in the definitive work on the Swiss master. “I really wanted to understand the phenomenon of his global and international popularity, because it was obvious, traveling everywhere with him, that he had a very strong popularity, all over the world, and I wanted to know why. I also wanted to understand with him how a game like his was built. Technically and psychologically,” said the author of Federer: the master of the gamepublished by Flammarion editions.
Christopher Clarey also wanted to look into Federer’s history due to his behavioral problems. While the player we know today always seems calm and in control, he wasn’t always like that. During his youth, he had great difficulty handling his frustration, disappointment, and anger.
The author alludes in particular in his book to a young Federer crying on the ground, who takes refuge under the official’s chair after a defeat to shed all the tears in his body. He also mentions games that were so uncomfortable to watch that his parents wouldn’t walk him home because his attitude was so troublesome. “He was tormented and unable to express his full potential, and I wanted to understand the path he had traveled. »
The journalist also believes that, despite popular belief, the Swiss is not the most mentally sound of this golden generation that also includes Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. It was also an interesting angle for him.
He explains that Federer lost extremely important matches, when he had match point, in particular because he is more fragile than one might think. “He is someone who maybe didn’t have the ability to succeed under pressure as often as Djoko or Nadal, but he won so many times with class and finesse,” he added.
This is probably what explains its immense popularity. The fans have unconditional love for him. More than any of his contemporaries in tennis history. “People feel like they have a personal relationship with him, even if they don’t speak the same language. I think it’s because he was often vulnerable and publicly tested. »
Roger Federer is considered by many to be the greatest player in history. With his 103 titles, including 20 Grand Slams, and his 1,251 career wins, he is also considered by many to be the greatest champion.
However, Christopher Clarey insists that he, too, is perhaps the biggest loser in history. This statement does not have as negative a connotation as it might seem. It’s just a statement that applies to a player who has played big games that he couldn’t win.
According to the author, the three biggest matches Roger Federer has played are the 2008 Wimbledon final against Rafael Nadal, the 2017 Australian Open final again against Nadal, and the 2019 Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic. Federer lost the first and the last. It is a fact. A fact that must also be taken into account when portraying a career as admirable as it is imperfect.
“It brought people together, it humanized Roger, to see that he could cry in public and show his emotions, especially early in his career. It was pretty rare back then for a male athlete, and it still is. In my opinion, he changed what was possible and acceptable as an athlete. »
the work of life
Roger Federer stands out from his rivals for his elegance, grace, class and fluidity on the pitch. This elegance is innate in the Swiss. “We can imagine that he was also a stylish football player at 12 years old,” explains Christopher Clarey. It is natural, but there is also a lot of work and refinement in that elegance of gesture that separates Roger from all other tennis players. »
It was his coach at the time, Peter Carter, who transformed Federer’s game and allowed him to be the technical role model he has become. He reinvented the Swiss forehand, serve, footwork and backhand. So many weapons that they have become characteristic elements of his game.
“Roger was destined to be a good tennis player, there is no doubt, but he was not destined to be the great champion that he is today. […] Roger was not a young prodigy like Nadal. »
He had to work hard to achieve and maintain such a level of excellence. A level that is no longer the same, of course. The 40-year-old player accumulates injuries and prolonged absences. His future on the circuit is uncertain, which is why Christopher Clarey wanted to write the book he had in mind as soon as possible. He was eager to publish it while Federer was still active.
The story was written before our eyes and Christopher Clarey wanted to put it on paper so that it would be frozen in time.
Federer: the master of the game
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