Here's one Dallas should frame The Man Who Could Not Avoid Beauty -Nine reasons why Roger Federer is a Genius
by Bill Simons
Some simply understate the matter. Jon Wertheim proclaimed, Roger “really has the hang of tennis.” Some overstate it. Eleanor Preston wondered, “Is it possible that Federer is the most perfect tennis player — the most perfect man — in the history of everything, ever?”
Others see it as a matter of simple injustice. “Federer has too many shots in his body” insisted yesterday’s hero Rod Laver. “It’s hardly fair that one person can do all he does.”
And there are some who make it sound kind of grandiose. For instance, the London Times said Federer “gives us his Houdini, Picasso and Lao Tzu. He can be as mellifluous as Noel Coward, as harsh as Bob Dylan. He can be as canny as Ulysses, defiant as Hercules, as brilliant as Einstein, as brutal as Genghis Khan, but ultimately...[he has] a character trait few possess...the instinct for championship: the understanding of oneself, not just as a mere winner, but as the best of all. It is something so powerful that it more or less guarantees the occasional miracle.”
In the end, perhaps it is the humble signs in the public square that say it best, like the church by Wimbledon that hung a banner that proclaimed, “And God created Roger Federer.” And then there was that Swiss fan who held aloft the sign which read — “Quiet Genius at Work.”
But what makes a genius? What qualities elevate the gifted ones above us mere mortals?
When we see genius, it amazes. We recognize and embrace it. It dazzles. There is always a certain elusive quality beyond our grasp. Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Mozart come to mind. They say genius is an imaginative, innovative individual who both has an exceptional intellect as shown in creative and original work and the ability to leap forward to achieve in a stunning manner that re-shapes the landscape.
Fair enough, but can we refer to ordinary folk who’re athletes, who merely toss a ball or hit one over the net — Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali — as geniuses? Can we call a mere tennis player a genius? Musicologists deconstruct Beethoven’s power and precision. Well, let us take a look at tennis’ genius du jour.
Okay, off-court Roger Federer speaks six languages and calls on airtight (VP in Charge of Operations) management skills. On-court he combines greyhound speed, flawless mechanics, balletic grace, explosive power, flicker-fast reflexes, jaw-dropping creativity, a much-celebrated penchant to switch from defense to offense, and the uncanny, pedal-to-the-metal ability to either sustain his formidable focus or switch and go to Plan B. Sorry Andy, Francisco or Lleyton, he can neutralize your fiercest weapon and beat the field in every which way. He long has been the best player on all the game’s surfaces, except clay where he’s a lowly No. 2. A confident, unwavering warrior, he’s every sports psychologist’s role model and gives new meaning to the phrase “mentally tough.” Plus, he’s blessed with that often underrated gift of avoiding bad mistakes, bad injuries, and bad relationships.
Yes, Fed’s record-book rival, Pete Sampras, consistently delivered over-the-top value and surprising drama. Unlike Lendl, Pete was far from artless. But, then again, beauty was hardly his strong suit. In contrast, Fed lifts us to a place of serenity and delight. Sure, we readily concede that it’s Fed’s flash: his fabled fluidity and astounding shot-making virtuosity, his in-your-grill forehands, beautiful (Picasso would be proud) backhand flicks, “gotcha” volleys and delicious drop shots and lobs that capture our attention and bathe our senses. After all, fans flocked to see McEnroe’s juicy implosions, while they watch Fed to partake vicariously of his generous grace. As David Foster Wallace reminded us, great athletes “catalyze our awareness of how glorious it is to touch and perceive, move through space, [and] interact with matter.”
Still, overall, it is the seamless combination of many assorted elements — little and large — which craft his genius. Roger’s sum is obviously far grander than all of his ‘Federerian’ parts. Here before us is a multi-faceted gem. Come let us reflect on the nine components of the artist’s genius:For the full 9 reasons, http://www.insidetennis.com/YB08_first_serve.html