Swiss magic is truly something to behold

He is not unbeatable - no one is ever unbeatable - but he's as close it comes, especially on grass. He is a genius, a magician. He is an athlete of such complete mental and physical power and calm combined that he is, I believe, unique in the history of tennis.

In winning a third consecutive Wimbledon title yesterday against Andy Roddick, he joined Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras as the only men since the 1930s to achieve the feat. I saw both of them play, in their prime. Federer does not yet have the 14 Grand Slam titles of the record holder, Sampras, or the 11 of Borg. And he may not get them. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, when an injury or a personal crisis could change your life and end your career. But in my opinion, shot for shot, Federer is the best player who has ever played the game.

Sampras was a wonderful champion, a great, no question. But he did have weaknesses, including a less than perfect return of serve on the backhand side sometimes. And great though his mobility was, Federer's is better. He makes everything look so easy, almost effortless.

Borg was another true great, but he was a machine. He broke you down mentally. He did not overpower you in the way that Federer does. Federer's shots can be so blistering, so uncannily placed that they leave nothing to say but "How?"

We can talk about details. Federer held seven of his service games to love yesterday. He had not a single double-fault. He hit 49 winners, many of them stunning cross-court forehands from nowhere that he had any right to be, or backhands down that line that left you thinking "Holy mackerel. Awesome. How?"

If one single point exemplified what Federer did yesterday it was the first point of the seventh game in the third set, with Roddick serving. After a 16-shot rally that almost defied belief, Federer hit a running forehand rocket down the line past Roddick. Unbelievable.

But these are just details. Federer is on another level to any other player in the world right now. And when you push him, he just plays better. Not always, of course. No one can do always. But as close as it comes. He hits shots that bamboozle, confuse and defeat. He is consistently beating the very best players that the world has to offer, and beating them comfortably.

It will be no consolation to Roddick today, but it would not have mattered who Federer faced yesterday. He would have won. Roddick did not play badly. Lleyton Hewitt did not play badly in the semi-final. It's just that Federer's talent is not of this planet.

Roddick's only chance at all was to serve massively the whole time and not make a single error. He did OK, and he was coming to the net, but you cannot give Federer more than one volley because he's better than you. Simply better.

Very few people in the history of sport have such a dominance, an aura, in their prime. Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky spring to mind. Federer is that good. He is so calm. His composure just does not slip. He has something within him, something so special that whatever the future brings, we should just be glad we have seen him play.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee