New Delhi: Roger Federer clinched his 18th Grand Slam title at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday in what was a night of pulsating action and drama for tennis fans across the globe. For the neutrals, there couldn’t be a better endorsement than the five-set thriller, but for the segmented fans, each wanted a certain legend to come out on top. Roger Federer, who missed the Rio Olympics and U.S. Open last year while he recovered from injury, outlasted Rafa Nadal in five sets on Sunday to clinch his 18th grand slam title at Melbourne Park, four and half years after his last.
“Tennis is a tough sport… There are no draws but if there would be one I would be happy to accept one and share it with Rafa really,” was Federer’s candid confession after the match. To a sigh of relief for his fans, this sounded as good music after that well-orchestrated cross court display over three-and-a-half-hours.
For Mirka Federer, it probably didn’t matter. Her husband had won. Just like the good old days…
The two have been together since the Sydney Olympics, long before the Swiss had become who he is today and two years before a foot injury prompted Mirka to call off her tennis career.
Yes, Mirka too was a tennis player and had even paired up with Roger in the mixed doubles tie at the Hopman Cup in 2002.
For long, she kept a tab on everything that the sport demanded from her husband; be it scheduling, taking down notes as he gave interviews, sponsorships, etc. She could always be seen around him.
“Mirka doesn’t want to be away from me, and I don’t want to be away from her,” Federer had once said in an interview.
“And like this we make it all work and we are actually together all year long, and maybe miss the girls and Mirka for one or two weeks during the year, which is just incredible that she’s willing to make all of that effort.
“I’m happy that it’s this way, because anything else would make it more difficult to compete and to play at the highest levels. It would basically be impossible.”
Given that unlike other sports this is a lonelier version at the top, Mirka’s support and engagement with the game has been pivotal to Roger’s success.
The two are proud parents of two sets of twins who have been seen at a few tournaments in the stands. Their mother, however, hardly misses out on a tour.
In the semifinal against Wawrinka that went for a five-setter as well, there were moments when Federer launched a cracking forehand down the line to pull off a point but when he looked up at the stands towards his wife, her head was down, face wrapped in arms while everyone around her were thumping their chest in joy.
Yesterday was no different.
The opponent was fiercer, brutal and a fighter who wouldn’t let go until the chair umpire stated the match was over.
Thus, when Roger Federer went on to win four consecutive games to clinch the championship after being 2-3 down in the fifth set, the joy was unbridled.
Unlike the neutrals and most Federer fans, all that mattered for her was to see Roger lift the silverware.
In the corridor, the hug lasted for nearly a minute followed by kisses that itself told the onlookers how much the victory meant to her.
Roger Federer, the less animated of the two, kept it simple by patting her back and reassuring her that the Promised Land had been achieved.