March 2, 2019
Roger Federer, the man for round numbers. Twenty Slams, a hundred titles. Sounds pretty neat.
In fact it is more than neat. It is historic, incredible, indelible evidence of an unshakeable will to win.
Career perfection for the most graceful player the world has ever seen.
Imperious and ruthless in equal measure, Roger Federer wasn’t about to waste the chance to reach his glorious century of big-time titles when the opportunity arose in the Middle East.
A 6-4, 6-4 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas sounds straightforward. Indeed it was, for the most part.
But only because Federer broke in the very first game and rarely allowed Tsitsipas time to settle or feel confident, even though it was the youngster’s second successive final.
Remember, the Greek had knocked Federer out of the Australian Open. He had recently won Marseille. He could have wrecked another of Roger’s dreams in Dubai.
Tsitsipas did cause a momentary Federer wobble, when the master was serving for the first set.
But the Swiss calmly fought off the break points to maintain the upper hand. He never looked back, breaking at the business end of the second to achieve that monumental ton of titles.
‘It is a dream come true,’ Roger said. It is what he always says. And we have to remind ourselves that he keeps having new dreams and then making them come true.
He stays hungry, even though he has gorged on glory for the best part of two decades. Is Federer greedy? If so, it is the right kind of greed.
He could retire tomorrow a happy and satisfied man. But why would he want to do that, when he has just re-entered the top five?
Why wouldn’t he enjoy the next Grand Slam adventure on clay, his first for a while?
And above all, why wouldn’t he think he could win Wimbledon again in a few months’ time?
Maybe Novak Djokovic would have to slip up for that to happen. But the Serb has done so before.
It makes sense for Federer to continue until the 2020 Olympics and try for that elusive singles gold.
Can he beat the 109 tour titles won by Jimmy Connors?
Probably not, but that was a different, less demanding era. Reaching three figures will have meant more to Federer than trying to beat the Connors total somewhere down the line.
Remember, a few of those Grand Slam titles hadn’t been won when we thought Federer would never win anything again. He was way off a century of tour titles. Injured. Growing old. On his way out.
That’s the incredible thing about Roger Federer. He didn’t quit.
He is still there. Still winning. Still doing it in style.
Congratulations Roger. The tennis world is celebrating with you.