In Praise of Roger and Rafa

By | July 12, 2019

What defines sporting greatness? At what point in a player’s career do we begin to attribute an iconic status to him?  Is it when he wins every title there is to be won? Or when he consistently reigns supreme, towering over every other player of his era? There are no perfect answers. 

But all sporting legends share one common attribute: they fundamentally transform the way we perceive the game. We remember Bobby Fischer not for the number of championships he had won, but for the flamboyant chessplay he had fashioned. Sachin’s demolition of Akhthar and Warne comes to mind far more vividly than any of his statistics. We celebrate Messi’s mazy runs, not his Ballon D’Or awards. That’s my idea of sporting greatness. Long after their accomplishments are forgotten, long after their trophies are buried under dust, their legacy still remains fresh in our collective memory.

For more than a decade now, Roger and Rafa have come to represent everything we love in sport— precision and power, elegance and aggression, artistry and industry. One moved around the court with effortless grace, the other chased the ball like a cheetah after a gazelle. They consistently pushed the boundaries of tennis, challenging the limits of what is deemed possible. With them, the ridiculous became the routine and it seemed as if their era dominance would last forever.

It’s been 11 years since that breathtaking final at the 2008 Wimbledon. The game ebbed and flowed for 4 hours and 48 minutes, leaving the spectators gasping for breath, their eyes swinging from side to side, with the precision of a pendulum clock. As if nature felt left out of this grand drama, it forced its hand. At 5-4 in the third set, as dark clouds gathered above the centre court, Roger and Rafa had to leave. The crowd buried their heads in their hands, unsure of whether the players would come back. Challenging every shred of doubt— and nature itself— they re-emerge to put on a show that is remembered for ages. That game is now widely regarded as the greatest match of all time in the history of tennis. 

The greatest rivalry in sport?

But sport can be an unforgiving spectacle, reducing even the invincibles to mere shadows of their formal selves. As Federer and Nadal aged, their reflexes dithered. Federer’s backhand began to lose its sting, and sometimes Nadal would give up the chase far too easily, making both of them look agonizingly ordinary. With each unforced error, every passing match, the decline looked inevitable. 

11 years later, looking back, it seems as if their careers mimic that epic game. Just when it looked like the sun is setting on their remarkable careers, they defy age, expectations and the critics to re-emerge and meet once again at the Wimbledon, perhaps for one last time.

On the eve of today’s game between these two exceptional sportsmen, it matters not to me their latest head-to-head statistics, nor do I care about the number of grand slams each had won. As I look back at their remarkable journey, all I feel at this moment is a profound sense of reverence. 

For the epic battles, the extraordinary rivalry, for the humility and the grace, and for your never ending pursuit of greatness, Roger and Rafa, thank you.

26 thoughts on “In Praise of Roger and Rafa

  1. Divya

    It’s simply amazing how you can precisely convey your feeling.
    Plus, reading your articles is something I thoroughly love.
    Please continue writing sir.

  2. Hema

    Every piece that you write has an undercurrent of profound humility. I suppose it showcases the respect you have for the journey you have been through to achieve success. And it is wonderful that the same reflects on your thoughts on how you look at people and read the situation.
    Keep writing, Mr.Anudeep Durishetty.
    You are one of a kind .

  3. Vikas Khatri

    I am learning from you Bhaiya. Your way of writing is absolutely fantastic. I hope you will attain the height of Mt. Everest in Bureaucracy.

  4. Sanjeevani Sinha

    Sir, you are a gem of a person. The way you write and the content you put forward, both are really amazing.

  5. Parul Makwana

    your thoughts, your nature, your mind set, all are reflected in your blog…… I am becoming more and more interesting to read 😊….bcz you know it’s all comes by your heart and soul. 😊
    I am following your heart and soul 😊

    _ your one of craziest follower

  6. Avignya

    Brilliantly worded piece!..Sports is a Reminder of Unsurpassed excellence of the human potential..On any given day , an Underdog can rise up to glory and redefine the limits that once impeded him/her..In doing so, they light up the paths for the others who are willing to risk everything for a dream..That is why Sport reminds us of the Greatness that lies inside of all of us..For me, the best part of the write up was about how Long forgotten victories, Legacies are always cherished, not because of the new records that’ve been written, rather mostly because of this Grand celebration of the defiant human spirit that has made us feel exceptional and inspired in our times…..Regards:)

  7. VIJI

    “..when the ridiculous becomes the routine” . Haha! 😁 Such a fine, beautiful line!

  8. Niketa Choudhary

    I think we like these sportsman because they present a strong mind and coming back ability when everything is not good and we think they can not do it.But they do it and become our favorite.

  9. JewelT

    Quite interestingly, that 2008 final between Nadal and Federer was the first tennis match that I saw on TV and I vividly remember 12 year old me rooting for Federer to win because my cousin with whom I was watching had told me that he was the world no 1 at that time and Nadal was ranked 2. Nadal won that game which was disappointing but the love for Federer and also respect for Nadal has only gone up since then.
    Two beautiful beautiful ambassadors of the game.

  10. Mrinal patil

    You know what’s the best thing about your writing is ‘the way to put your thoughts into words’, the way you unwind them in every paragraph.
    Can there be a better praise than saying, ‘I can actually feel what were you thinking while writing it?’
    that makes you very unique!
    I can’t stress enough to ask you write often!
    It’s a treat to read! How often do we experience falling for words in the era of Netflix!
    Much love!

  11. Bhavana

    If your fans like me write about you, the title goes like “In praise of Anudeep Durishetty”

      1. Vikas Khatri

        I have written something by taking your video’s reference. Please Check Your mailbox sir.

  12. vani vani

    Such a master piece in writing!!!!! big fan of your writings Anudeep, they leave a deep impact. Keep writing more. I always wanted to know, how did you gain this command in the language(i have to use dictionary to find meanings of the words you use ).You are a multi-talented officer. Kudos to you.
    You inspire us in many ways!!!

  13. Nithya

    Somewhere read,If you want to be an extraordinary writer you have to do extraordinary things and it perfectly suits you sir.Wonderful writing.keep on writing.


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