And because I'm such a Fedtard, I must say that the theory held by a percentage of the human race regarding why Roger was as dominant as he was between 2004-2007 will never, ever fail to rile me up, even a little. To say that he held the #1 position for a consecutive 237 weeks because no one was around to challenge him does not even begin to scratch the surface of his greatness. Reaching #1 is difficult until you get there - and when you do get there, it's even more difficult to remain standing at the top of the pack - and Roger managed to stand head and shoulders above the pack.
People who aren't tennis fanatics and who aren't familiar with the rankings system don't understand how damn tough it is to stay #1, let alone to do so for such a long time. A player gains ranking points according to how deep he goes in a tournament, but if he does not reach at least the same round as he did a year before in the following year, he loses his ranking points. This means that if a player wins a Grand Slam and gets 2000 points, propelling him to the top 5, if he skips the tournament altogether in the following year, he loses the whole 2000 points and drop to below #60 in the following year. In other words, the pressure is on every single goddamn tournament that you play in, to do at least as well as you did the year before. The pressure is even higher for the top players to maintain their ranking.
Bringing this back to Roger, he was #1 for 237 weeks in a row. Out of those 237 weeks, he won 3 Grand Slams in a year 3 over a period of 3 years. This means that he was consistently at the top of the game, beating everyone, defending not just his titles, but his ranking points. And we're not talking about a good top 5 player; we're talking about the fucking world number one. He got there not by luck, but by winning, and he stayed there for so long by winning consistently. Tennis is as much a mental sport as it is a physical one; half the battle of the game is in your mind. Roger was incredibly mentally tough to sustain his concentration over such a long period of time, because it is this concentration that had been lacking from 2008-2010, causing him to lose to players that he would never have even dropped a set to in his dominant years.
Which brings me to my next point: the lack of competition. I wonder where people get this idea, because if you look at his recent losses, it's clear that the issue isn't that players are getting better; it's that Roger was just too good. Too damn good. Look at the players that he lost to last year: Baghdatis, Berdych, Gulbis, Monfils. Are these guys the next grand slam champion? Even ANDY MURRAY hasn't won a slam yet. Sure, they're solid players, but they're as likely to go down as one of the greatest players of all time as I am to win Wimbledon.
The truth is, the opposition isn't getting better; the truth is, Roger is just slowing down. And it's expected that he'd eventually slow down: beneath the god-like ease of him tearing up the competition for most of his career, he's human like everyone else. He ages, he's aging - and yet, he's still beating players 10 years younger than he is.
I'm unable to comprehend how he was able to win over and over, year in year out, and lose 4, 5 matches in a year. I like to be astounded by the boundlessness of human determination and strength, of the ability of a human being to make possible the impossible. How does his body sustain him? How does his body keep up with his raw ambition and talent? How does his concentration propel him so to the apex of his chosen profession?
I would like to dissect him and find out. But I can only admire his resilience, his determination, his tenacity, from afar. I would probably never get the chance to talk to him, but I'm happy knowing of him, and having someone like Roger Federer to inspire me to become something greater than myself.