Thursday was the 13th anniversary of Roger Federer’s first Wimbledon title. How did he decide to celebrate, you ask? By putting everybody through the wringer.
Federer erased a deficit of two sets and saved three match points to beat Marin Cilic in the Wimbledon quarterfinal.
Poor Goran. pic.twitter.com/VBpnIrMzEY— René Denfeld (@Renestance) July 6, 2016
A month shy of his 35th birthday, Federer is the oldest man to advance to the last four at the All England Club since Ken Rosewall did so in 1974, aged 39. The man has more comebacks from two sets down than any other in the Open Era. It was his 84th victory at Wimbledon -- tying Jimmy Connors for the most -- and 307th at all Grand Slams, overtaking Martina Navratilova as the most prolific winner of all.
Most importantly, the Swiss is now two steps away from ending a four-year long wait for the 18th major title and the elusive eighth at Wimbledon. Federer, who snapped when asked of the possibility after the 2014 final loss -- “I have seven, it’s not like I need any more” -- now calls it a dream.
With nemesis Novak Djokovic out of the way, perhaps it is Federer’s year. His legacy, however, is cemented regardless.
A spot in the pantheon assured, Federer has reached a point in his career where he can not do his reputation any harm. Nobody expects him to be the dominant force from the noughties. Early exits from tournaments will be chalked up to advancing age and slowing reflexes, while performances like Thursdays further make his case as the G.O.A.T.
He is in that comfortable realm where he is not a hipster pick (a la hotshot Alexander Zverev or a resurgent Juan Martin del Potro) or an out-an-out favourite like Djokovic. Federer is for all seasons.
No other man could cut short local lad Marcus Willis’ run so brutally and still not come out as the villain of the Hollywood tale.
What also helps is that Federer is pop culture-aware and knows how to stay relevant. His tweets are peppered with nonsensical gifs and emoticon.
Centre court felt alive. Thanks for the support 💪🎾🚀🤖👊 pic.twitter.com/0mNkSCNIeR— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) July 6, 2016
How many others can boast of pushing out merchandise with their personalised emoji on it?
All that makes him the subject of endearment not just for the supporters but his peers as well.
Now, if only there was some other sports icon Federer could be compared with.
Watched you fight back from 2 sets down and 0-40 down on your serve. Great fight back and fantastic spirit. All the best! @rogerfederer— sachin tendulkar (@sachin_rt) July 6, 2016