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 of 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 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, it seems as if their careers have followed the trajectory of 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.

40 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.

    Reply
      1. Samidha

        Yes, truly! Its a roller coaster of imagination flowing throughout the reading. I really am a fan of your writing skills!!!

        Reply
  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 .

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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:)

    Reply
  7. VIJI

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  11. Bhavana

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

    Reply
      1. Vikas Khatri

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

        Reply
  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!!!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  14. Tanmay

    Hi Sir,
    Why don’t you make a blog post regarding the topic”How to devolepe writing skills?”

    Reply
  15. Rithika

    Anudeep, how heartbreaking was Roger’s loss in the finals to Nole! How did you cope with him losing after having 2 championship points in the decider? I’m still recovering from his loss lol

    Reply
  16. Tannu kumari

    Sir it is one of the best article I have ever read .I would like to thank you for connecting with aspirants even after a year of emerging as a UPSC topper. . And I request you to continue doing so .

    Reply
  17. vivek

    thanks sir, you are like an Rojar for us, by whom we get inspiration for writing for such a wonderful piece! \

    Reply
  18. Yakesh Sahu

    Did you notice your popularity among girls. 80% of comments in your articles are from girls.

    Reply
  19. Myraxes

    Oh man, I am huge fan of Rafa and I still remember that epic battle like it happened yesterday, the power and raw emotions of both players and the crowd, the unforgettable trophy presentation at dusk with sun just setting and all the flashlights of the cameras and Mobiles amidst of all those spectacular images Rafa bit that trophy finally that eluded him in the past 2 finals. It’s Just a match for ages to remember and it will be remembered.

    Reply
  20. Harish Bale

    How beautiful writing it is. You express your feelings using such a wonderful vocabulary. I always feel its a feast to read your articles. Am literally loving your writings. Already read all articles here in this blog. And immediately after completing this, i was looking and waiting for the next article from you. Thank You Anudeep garu and Keep writing !!

    Reply
  21. Rishabh Singh

    Wow! I could feel your emotions. It made me nostalgic. I have faint memories of that game too. Thank you for this article. Your writing is powerful!!

    Reply
  22. shashank giregol

    Tennis or any other sports ,the greats and legends are made by the rivalries.In 80s it was between Borg and McEnroe and later Boris Becker .In 90s it was between the great Pete Sampras and Andry Agassi.Pete was known for his calm and poise in the ground while Agassi was the punk , boastful and he made Sampras suffer many times.That was the beauty of their rivalry, that made both of them greats.Now its Nadal who makes Federer a great, athletic ,hardworking Nadal made Federer suffer on most of the clay matches (Rolland Garrows) , similarly Federer made sure that Nadal can not get that much success on the grass(Wimbledon).

    Reply

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