'What makes a legend?' This question is made especially pressing with Federer's latest grand slam win, taking his tally to another record-shattering number - 20. Is a legend someone who is the greatest or one of the greatest ever in what he or she does? The conventional definition of 'legend' seems to align with this interpretation. For instance in tennis, all you need to be called one for the men is to win 7 or 8 grand slam singles' titles. This definition is however too quantified for our taste. Is a legend someone who is able to produce what would not have been able to be produced by someone else in similar circumstances? This interpretation again is not taken well by us, for it would apply to too broad a list of people the meaning of legendary would be lost. So what makes a legend, in the terms of the Rovo team? It would be too complex to be defined such along such linear terms as mentioned above, but we promise we came up with something in this article.
Perhaps we should start with what makes Federer legendary
We are referring here not to the consistency with which he is taking home the grand slams, but the his apparently less extraordinary streak of going into grand slams semi-final/quarter-final deep much more consistently throughout his career, than what other comparable players could or ever will. Federer has appeared in 42 grand slam semifinals. This is way above Nadal's 26 and Djokovic's 28. Such comparison of absolutes does not however shine that much light on the extraordinariness of Federer's grand slam semi-final reaching consistency, as much as the fact from the 2004 Australian Open to the 2010 French Open, there was only one tournament in which Federer did not reach the semi-final (the 2004 French Open). Compare this to Nadal and Djokovic.
Remaining virtually career-long injury free
Every now and then, you have tennis players retiring halfway from the match; withdrawing from tournaments, or simply giving walkover. Djokovic is notorious for doing this (although we refuse to make a judgement on this as only Djokovic will ever know if they are truly warranted), Nadal is known for pulling out of tournaments or needing urgent on-court aid, and Murray is known for his back (and also, some surgery.) And you have Federer, who is known for having a horrible year in 2013 due to some back problem and some 'problem with the knee' in 2016 that did not stop him from reaching the Wimbledon semifinals of that year. What does this all point to? The only time when some of injury led to a hampering of Federer's performance on-court was the year 2013, during which he crashed out of Wimbledon and the US Open before the quarter-finals. How do you remain unscathed for so long when pitted against the brutality of some of the toughest situations a human being faces? The answer is blowing in the wind.
The Federer factor
There is one factor of absolute uniqueness to the Swiss maestro, that makes him a legend, which as we will see is a factor of factors. The Federer factor. The quick, highly precise dropshots on the backhand side that he has recently added to his ever changing repertoire of shots the start of this year. The accurate, fast and deep backhand drives which he has been using since 2017 and not before. The clutch forehand hit stretched out-wide down-the-line to the behind of the opponent. The inside-out forehand down the line which has been beautifully executed to terrific results throughout the span of his career. His uncannily good anticipatory abilities which allow to move around the court with minimal effort - he starts moving to the spot of ball contact before the ball even leaves the opponent's racket. What is the Federer factor again? All these. You could say that because so many of these 'trademarks' lie within the Federer factor, missing one would not undo the meaning of the term the 'Federer factor'. We believe otherwise, for underlying all these 'trademarks' is the one and the same essence.
So what makes a legend a legend?
A legend is his or her type of legend, in his or her own right. Anti-climatic, cheesy, pointless, a waste of an essay. Call this piece of philosophical literature whatever we think you would call it, but this article serves a purpose to those who actually pay attention and ingest what may seem like meaningless, and perhaps reptertive, trash. This essay posits that a legend can be pointed out to, but cannot be defined. There is enough of that something so indescribable as to merit the value of the word, but it cannot be understood. Is Federer legendary for one factor (his unsurpassable winning of 20 grand slams), or is it for all his trademark attributes? The former would definitely be out of the question for numbers do not capture the essence, they are merely reflections of it. The later interpretation means that tons of other more ordinary players share at least one attribute of Federer, and it peels away at his significance. So lets thinks some more, about what makes Federer legendary.
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