Davis Cup 2014: There is no beating Roger Federer
On Sunday, November 23, 2014, history was made for Switzerland by their most prolific and magnanimous sportsman Roger Federer, when he beat Richard Gasquet to give his team an unassailable lead of 3-1 in the tie, guaranteeing their maiden Davis Cup title.
Federer’s reaction after his sublime drop shot was telling of how desperately he wanted to win this for his country and teammates. He had been criticised over the years, at times even by his compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, of not committing enough to the Davis Cup. But all that was in the past and on the day of the win, they were primed to lift the trophy.
Wawrinka’s contribution was central to the final ties as Federer struggled with a recurring back injury; he lost his opening match to a charged up and ever-entertaining Gael Monfils in straight sets. Federer looked far from himself as he barely stretched, slid or served in his usual graceful but incisive way, clearly struggling to shake off the back spasm fears. But it was Wawrinka who put aside all doubts about his form against a dangerous Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and produced some inspired tennis in the second tie, winning it in straight sets to level Switzerland with France again at 1-1.
Saturday followed with the third tie in the best of five match finals in which doubles from both countries were to play. Federer and Wawrinka, Olympic gold medallists in Beijing 2008, faced off against Julien Benneteau and Gasquet. All eyes were on Federer and how he would play, given his first match struggles where he looked far from a 100% fit.
But the match produced some awe-inspiring tennis from the Swiss duo.
Wawrinka couldn’t hit a ball wrong and, Federer was moving and serving more like he had been doing all year, which raised him to the level of world number two. The French pair looked over-matched by their Swiss opponents and could do little to derail them, eventually losing in straight sets. The win put Switzerland 2-1 up in the finals with breathing space for the final two matches.
Federer brought home the fourth match in the finals with ease and brilliant tennis, moving past his back issues to lift Switzerland to glory. His tennis made Gasquet look as if he wasn’t trying hard enough, already succumbing to his past demons against the Swiss maestro whom he had lost to 12 times and won only twice in his career. Although Gasquet played one of the best tennis matches of his life and gave it his all, the Swiss was too much for him to handle.
Keeping this win in mind, a major question needs to be asked; with Federer’s trophy cabinet now boasting of everything there is to win in tennis, does this seal the deal on him being the Greatest Of All Time?
His greatest achievement might be the fact that at 33, he can still run around, compete and dominate the younger more powerful players of the current generation. His semi-final win over Novak Djokovic, the reigning world number one, in Shanghai and their final match up at SW19 (Wimbledon) were amongst the best matches of the season, producing fine tennis from two of the finest athletes in this sport.
Federer is the only player today who has competed with three generations of tennis players and maintained a standard that is hard to emulate – let alone get close to. His resurgence from a “difficult” 2013 year, as he stated himself, has been remarkable to say the least. His performance in some of the key matches bolstered his claim to the Greatest Of All Time for the time being. If there really is such a thing as the greatest tennis player ever, then for me Federer is the prime candidate for it.
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