Tennis fanatic and Surge Recruitment House Managing Director Gerard McVeigh gives his take on the greatest sportsman of all time and the ingredients behind the success
Roger Federer has just won his 8th Wimbledon singles title and taken his career Grand Slam wins to 19 since his 1st Wimbledon title in 2003.
Being the greatest in the world at something is a feeling I and many others reading this blog will probably never experience. In fact being number 1 in an individual sport I believe is an even greater achievement than being a key player in the World Number 1 team in say rugby, football or cricket.
So how on earth at age 35, having won everything in the world of tennis from Grand Slams to Olympic medals, to spending a total of 302 weeks as World Number 1, does the Swiss maestro stay motivated to keep competing at the top level?
Without having the opportunity to interview the genius himself (although if you’re reading Roger I can fit my diary around yours! ) I have put together 5 key points that I think are the vital ingredients to Federer becoming the greatest sportsman to have ever lived:
Love of the sport
Like everything, in order to succeed at something, you have to truly love what you do and there are no doubts about how much Federer loves the sport as a whole. From the long-standing traditions of tournaments, to grassroot victories and the legends that have walked the courts before him, Federer has incredible knowledge and appreciation of everything surrounding the game. This passion and understanding of all he represents when he steps out on the tennis court therefore spills over into his mindset, his individual shot making and indeed helps light up everyone from the spectators both in the courts and watching at home.
The attitude and work ethic
When you have achieved everything it must be hard to keep setting yourself new goals. In his post-match interview just minutes after lifting the Wimbledon trophy for the 8th time yesterday, Federer already stated how he hoped he would be back next year to defend it. During 2016 Federer took a break to work off some niggling injuries and have a relatively major knee operation, all of which came off the back of not winning a Grand Slam since 2012. Time to hang up the rackets with your head held high Rog? Not a chance. He worked tirelessly in the gym as he has done year upon year, to get his fitness back up to Grand Slam level and he now, rather remarkably, appears to be playing the best tennis of his career.
The support network
Whilst being an individual sport Federer has always had a largely consistent team around him. Not least his wife Mirka, a WTA player herself, his parents, and in more recent years his two sets of twins. Alongside his family support Federer has consistently had Severin Luthi in his box, and a number of coaches helping him along from the side-lines from Peter Carter, to Tony Roche to most recently Edberg and Ljubicic. All of these individuals perhaps can’t deliver to Federer’s level on the court, but they bring new ideas and fresh approaches for him to execute. Similarly, it shows that even at his level, Federer is still hungry to improve and eager to learn from other professionals in the game.
It cannot be underestimated how some of Federer’s key competitors over the years have contributed to his success and helped him to always improve and take his game to the next level. From Agassi to Hewitt to Roddick, and in recent years Murray and Djokovic. However perhaps the greatest rivalry Federer has encountered has been with Rafael Nadal. There are no doubts that the Spaniard helped take Federer’s game to new levels and the Wimbledon final of 08’ between the two, finishing in the darkness of Centre Court is heralded the greatest match ever played. Nadal has been the perfect competition for Federer and came at a time when Federer’s dominance was all encompassing.
Roger Federer is a world recognised brand. Companies such as Rolex, Nike, Mercedes-Benz, Moet and Credit Suisse alongside others have all been queuing up to be associated with Federer since his early Grand Slam wins. The Roger Federer foundation helps disadvantaged children get into education and sport, alongside using the RF brand to raise funds for major disasters such as the Haiti earthquake of 2010 and the Queensland floods. The brand Federer has created is almost as powerful as the man himself and adds to his world-wide appeal.