Tracy Austin: Roger's unbeatable blend of beauty and beastly power

If, all of a sudden, he wants to crank it up 20 per cent, he just pulls it out of his arsenal. It all seems so easy to him, and so bewildering to everyone else who would like to be like him.

Roger is such a complete player, for me the most enjoyable player I have ever watched. I have heard that Lew Hoad was a beautiful player but I never saw him. As for Roger, I could sit all day and just watch him rally. He is a phenomenal striker of the ball, with beauty and flair.

When you watch Federer play there are so many points and shots where you just say to yourself, 'Wow, how did he come up with that winner?' Most people don't have the variety and choices to make those shots. And if they do try, they aren't going to make it on a consistent basis. So eye-catching are Federer's winners that not enough mention is made of his defensive skills and how quick he is.

In Friday's semi-final, Hewitt had to go for the extra shot all the time. Against Roger, you think you have hit a winner and the ball comes back. Then you tend to start overplaying, because you have to try for so much. Sometimes you think he can't possibly get out of a point, but somehow he finds a way. He has pace, the finesse to handle other people's power, and soft hands.

So is Federer the best tennis player of all time, as a lot of people are claiming? Well, for a start his serve is not as big as Pete Sampras's for sheer power, but he places it so well and with such great variety. Also his groundstrokes are more solid than Pete's, especially on the backhand side.

Sampras won Wimbledon seven times and Federer has only won it twice so far, yet there is already this "greatest-ever" talk. He is only 23, yet it is worth remembering that such things were being said about him even two years ago.

Why? Because he is an unbelievably magical talent who seems to be able to raise the level of his tennis whenever he needs to. There are other pluses, too. He handles pressure well, he handles the media well and he handles the fans well. No wonder the supporters, and a lot of the media, think so much of him. OK, he gets angry on court a few times, but the expectation from everyone is that he will win easily in every match, and he seems to handle that expectation too. If you contrast the two defending Wimbledon champions, Maria Sharapova always seems about to explode, while Roger seems so at ease.

With Sampras, you knew that every year when the clay-court season rolled around he would struggle. To a lesser extent, and surprisingly since it is his "home" surface in Switzerland, Roger considers it his least favourite surface. He was beaten at the French Open last year and this summer by two opponents, Gustavo Kuerten and Rafael Nadal, who used the same tactic, high-bouncing shots to his backhand.

Federer's coach, Tony Roche, who is so knowledgeable, counts the French as his only Grand Slam success as a player, so he will be working hard to try to ensure that Roger wins all four majors, either, like Rod Laver and Donald Budge did, in a calendar year, or over a period of time, like Andre Agassi and Fred Perry. You could always expect to see Sampras struggling, but Federer has the capability to win the French.

As for Wimbledon, just who can get his measure? In last year's final, it was 1-1 in sets and Andy Roddick was 4-2 up in the third, hitting the heck out of the ball, serving monster serves. But it is difficult for anybody to keep that up for three sets, never mind the best of five.

I haven't seen anyone else on the men's tour with the same flair and consistency as Federer. The Moroccan Hicham Arazi has the same artistry, and is gorgeous to watch, but consistency is not the name of his game. It is the combination of these talents that makes Roger so magnificent.

Take aspects of other people's game, like Hewitt's toughness and speed. Roger has got that, too. He is a better volleyer than most, nor does he seem to tire. I wouldn't know where to break him down. You just have to hope to get him on a bad day. And even then, you need to play the best match of your life.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power