Federer: the master of the game | Roger Federer’s Perfectly Imperfect Journey

Roger Federer is undoubtedly one of the greatest sports icons of his generation. However, the time for retirement is approaching for the Swiss and that is why Christopher Clarey wanted to publish the most complete work ever written about man with 20 Grand Slam titles.

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Nicola Riccardo

Nicola Riccardo
The print

“Hi, how are you? Replied Mr. Clarey when we reached him by phone in Rome. He had just completed a post-game interview with Bianca Andreescu.” She is beautiful. She must be fun for you to see her play again! ”

The entire interview took place in the language of Molière. Journalist at New York Times, Christopher Clarey had the opportunity to travel the world. Assigned to cover tennis for 30 years, he has had the opportunity to perfect his French he, which today is close to perfection.

Three decades during which he also had the privilege of closely following and supporting Roger Federer. What culminates today in the definitive work on the Swiss master. “I really wanted to understand the phenomenon of his global and international popularity, because it was obvious, traveling everywhere with him, that he had a very strong popularity, all over the world, and I wanted to know why. I also wanted to understand with him how a game like his was built. Technically and psychologically, “said the author of Federer: the master of the gamepublished by Flammarion editions.

Unsuspected problems

Christopher Clarey also wanted to delve into Federer’s story due to his behavioral problems. Even though the player we know today always seems calm and in control, he wasn’t always like that. During his youth, he had great difficulty managing his frustration, disappointment and anger.

The author alludes in particular in his book to a young Federer crying on the ground, who will take refuge under the officer’s chair after a defeat to shed all the tears of his body. He also mentions games that were so embarrassing to watch that his parents wouldn’t drive him home because his attitude was so problematic. “He was tormented and unable to express his full potential, and I wanted to understand the path he had traveled. ”

The reporter also believes that, despite popular belief, the Swiss is not the most mentally solid of this golden generation which also includes Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. It was also an interesting point of view for him.


Roger Federer at Wimbledon in July 2021

He explains that Federer has lost very important games, when he had a match point, particularly because he is more fragile than one might think. “He is someone who may not have had the ability to be successful under pressure as often as Djoko or Nadal, but he has won so often with class and finesse,” he added.

This is probably what explains its immense popularity. Fans love him unconditionally. More than all his contemporaries in the history of tennis. “People feel they have a personal relationship with him, even if they don’t speak the same language. I think it’s because he was often vulnerable and publicly challenged. ”

big defeats

Roger Federer is considered by many to be the greatest player in history. With his 103 titles, including 20 Grand Slams, and his 1251 career victories, he is also considered by many to be the greatest champion.

However, Christopher Clarey insists he is also, possibly, the biggest loser in history. This statement does not have as negative a connotation as it might seem. It’s just a statement that applies to a player who has played great games that he couldn’t win.

According to the author, the three most important matches played by Roger Federer are the 2008 Wimbledon final against Rafael Nadal, the 2017 Australian Open final against Nadal and the 2019 Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic. Federer lost the first and the last. This is a fact. A fact that must also be kept in mind when painting the portrait of a career as admirable as it is imperfect.


Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final

“He brought people together, he humanized Roger, see that he could cry in public and show his emotions, especially early in his career. It was pretty rare for a male athlete at the time, and it’s still rare. In my opinion, he changed what was possible and acceptable as a sportsman. ”

The work of life

Roger Federer stands out from his opponents for his elegance, grace, class and fluidity on the pitch. This elegance is innate in the Swiss. “We can imagine that at 12 he was also an elegant football player,” explains Christopher Clarey. It is natural, but there is also a lot of work and refinement in this elegance of the gesture that separates Roger from all the other tennis players. ”

It was his coach at the time, Peter Carter, who transformed Federer’s game and allowed him to be the technical model he has become. He reinvented the Swiss forehand, serve, footwork and backhand. So many weapons that have become characteristic elements of his game.

“Roger was meant to be a good player, no doubt, but he wasn’t meant to be the great champion he is today. […] Roger was not a young prodigy like Nadal. ”

It has had to work hard to achieve and maintain this level of excellence. A level that is no longer the same, of course. The 40-year-old accumulates injuries and prolonged absences. His future on the circuit is uncertain, which is why Christopher Clarey wanted to write the book he had in mind as soon as possible. He wanted to release it while Federer was still active.

The story was written before our eyes and Christopher Clarey wanted to put it in writing so that it could remain frozen in time.

Federer: the master of the game

Federer: the master of the game

Flammarion Quebec

496 pages

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