Chase Rubin: The Mental Grit of Roger Federer

Tennis enthusiast Chase Rubin pays tribute to Roger Federer for winning his 18th Slam at the Australian Open.

“There are no draws in tennis, but if there were I would have been happy to share this trophy with you tonight, Rafa.” – Roger Federer

The GOAT’s (Greatest of All Time) road to 18 has been a long one, and mired by criticisms, doubts, and questions about his abilities no less. But perhaps what makes this victory of Roger Federer sweeter is that he has possibly come to redefine what a modern athlete is or should be.

At 35 years old, Roger Federer is either a genius or an anomaly, depending on how you view it. He’s a genius for having managed to slow down or minimize the impact of aging on his body. Sure, he may have peaked and is already past his prime, but his game still easily lands him in the Top 5 of anyone’s list, and that’s something.

On the other hand, Roger Federer is an anomaly for defying expectations. In his mid 30’s, he has successfully done what few could even conceive. This is because many of his colleagues and predecessors have thrown in the towel and retired once they hit the big three-zero. Take a look at Andy Roddick who retired in 2012, for example. Roddick retired at age 30, with 32 career titles, and only 1 US Open title to his name. Roddick’s problem? Roger Federer stood in his way, defeating him in all of their Wimbledon final clashes. Many fans and analysts say the two’s rivalry was never on equal ground to begin with, and was lopsided in Roger Federer’s favor but if you look at Fed’s career development, you might see a different story.

In the world of tennis, there’s this notion that younger is greater, stronger, and more powerful. This is why some fans may be reluctant to confer the title of GOAT to Roger Federer, because he only won his first title at 22 years old. Tennis superstars Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were younger than that when they won their first Slam, but being an early starter doesn’t also mean that they should rightfully be called the GOAT, correct? With that said, Roger Federer is in a league of his own because he could have been just another Andy Roddick who threw in the towel and retired, but he isn’tβ€”he’s Roger Federer and he showed the world that.

The nail-biting finish to the Australian Open will be remembered fondly in the years to come. Here’s why: Rafael Nadal blew a 3-1 lead in the 5th and made the grave mistake of playing into Roger Federer’s hands, which cost him the AO trophy. On Roger Federer’s part, he showed sheer tenacity and intense mental grit, finding a way out of Rafa’s high spinning balls to come away with a win after a spectacular 26-shot rally.

Even if you aren’t a fan of Roger Federer, you’d have to hand it to the Swiss Maestro for his showing at the Australian Open; it deserves a roaring round of applause for making history.

Stay tuned for more tennis thought pieces by Chase Rubin.