Other than "Tennis no Oujisama" which got me really hooked onto the sport, Roger Federer is probably one big reason why I like the sport so much. His way of playing is like the flowing water with so much variation and fine precision. Although it's human nature to show your emotions on court as seen from many players who may get so worked up that they swear at themselves or smash rackets, Federer always looks so cool and collected even when facing the toughest challenger. Even when he lost matches, he displayed so much grace and humility as if he wasn't affected adversely by the loss.
Especially in the past few years as more younger and hard-hitting players joined the tour, Federer has been written off more than once with reasons such as age catching up on him and physical issues like injury. Nonetheless, he bounced back many times with his actions to silence the critics even though it was clearly getting more difficult for him to get to the Grand Slam finals. Unfortunately, the 6-month break he took last year due to injury also made it seem like an impossible journey for him to regain his past glory on the tour again.
Tonight, Federer had done it again. At the Australian Open 2017 final and against his biggest nemesis Rafael Nadal.
The final match was a nail-biting one and long (as usual!) for a viewer like me to sit through but I imagine that it must be worse for both players to play for that long and at such great intensity. That was also why I hoped that it wouldn't drag till a tie-breaker in the fifth set because they both looked so exhausted. Especially after seeing that Federer had to take some injury time off, the prospects of him winning seemed to be low again. However, the way he turned the tables on Nadal was so typical of Federer - classic style with grace.
What surprised me was seeing his joy at the winning moment and his eyes brimming with tears which means that this victory must have meant a lot to him. Maybe it wasn't just because he had overcome his biggest rival after so much time and effort. I think the break he had to take last year could have made him doubt his chances too. To be able to withstand all this doubt, criticism and harsh words saying that you are a "has-been", it takes a lot of mental strength to overcome this and play at the top level. That is why this victory is especially sweet for him and his fans because it proves that he can still perform.
When everyone tells you that you can't make it, being able to beat the odds and shut out all the criticism is definitely an uphill task. However, that doesn't mean that you should give up. Federer's success today was especially inspiring to me since I'm about the same age as Federer. If he can overcome his age and injury to play such a fine game again, what reason do I have to throw in the towel and not pursue my dreams even though I may be written off for being too old to dream or being impractical to still want to pursue a seemingly meaningless or unachievable goal?
Thank you Federer. Not only did you make my day for winning again, I've received a much-needed boost of courage just at the right time.