Whenever a truly outstanding athlete comes along, there is always a great
deal of speculation as to what makes him or her so special. People try to
determine what enables some people to rise to the pinnacle of their chosen
profession. Psychologists study their family histories, their personalities,
their training regimens, their diets and their demeanor on and off the court
It is not easy to figure out exactly what produces a Wayne Gretzky,
a Tiger Woods, a Michael Jordan or a Billy Jean King. It does appear that
many top champions possess a rare combination of genetic gifts, physical attributes,
discipline, focus, confidence and temperament.
In some instances, some of these attributes are learned. In other cases,
they are God given.
Roger Federer has many things going for him that seem to set him apart
from the other tennis players of this era and maybe every era.
First, he is better at elevating his game in key situations than is anyone I
have ever watched on a tennis court. He can switch his game into another gear
when the situation calls for it.
Second, he is blessed with fantastic foot speed, marvelous anticipation
and the balance of a ballerina. In most sports, there is simply no substitute
for being blessed with pure speed. I believe that Federer was born with great
quickness, speed and agility.
Third, he seems to understand the geometry of tennis in a way that no one
else does right now. He creates wonderful shots from every spot on the court.
Federer is like a chess master who sees moves that many others can not imagine.
Fourth, he is very even tempered and he keeps his emotions under control all of
the time. He rarely displays any outbursts and he maintains his impeccable control over
his mind and his body.
Fifth, his ability to tune out distractions and focus on the ball is unmatched, as is his
talent for hitting the ball with a still head, even if he is on the run. This "still head" is an
important asset for a tennis player, a baseball hitter, a hockey player or a golfer.
Sixth, Federer is forever the gracious gentleman. This may contribute to
his ability to manage the emotional ups and downs that comes with competing at
a high level. He is intent on carrying himself in a dignified way, no matter what
Last, I believe he is determined to create a special tennis legacy. Wisely,
like Tiger Woods, he is saving his energy for the major tennis events. This prevents
him from getting injured and from burning out. It appears that he will stay around tennis
for quite some time and that he will be able to eclipse virtually every tennis record
in the books. Tennis fans can look forward to a many more years of watching this
phenomenal athlete's magic on the court.