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Given to Fly

January 28, 2007

Given to Fly: It’s clear that Roger Federer is a genius

No tennis player right now compares to Roger Federer. No athlete in any sport is at the top of his or her game like Federer is now.

He won’t tell you about it like Muhammad Ali, but Federer is 25 years old and he’s The Greatest. Some say a genius.

“I mean, look, I guess I’m the best tennis player in the world,” Federer said after taking down Fernando Gonzalez in straight sets Sunday, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, becoming the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to run through a Grand Slam without losing a set. “You can call me a genius because I’m outplaying many of my opponents, kind of maybe playing a bit different, you know, winning when I’m not playing my best. All of that maybe means a little bit of that. So it’s nice.”

The best of all time though, while still up for debate, is inevitable. He’s won 10 majors since the middle of 2003. Pete Sampras’ all-time mark of 14 is within easy reach; like most shots opponents try to bring at him, he glides to the ball with ease and finds the perfect shot.

To put his recent wins in majors in perspective, Sampras won his 14 Grand Slam titles in a span of 13 years. If Bjorn Borg didn’t retire at 26, the Swede probably would have extended his 11 Grand Slam titles in an eight-year period. The great Australian Roy Emerson took 12 slam titles in seven years. Federer is likely to surpass 12 within the next year.

Maybe Federer hasn’t had a top rival to contend with as Sampras did with Andre Agassi or Connors with John McEnroe. Critics have said the same of Tiger Woods. Then Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson stepped up their games. Other players will begin to challenge Federer like Gonzalez did Sunday, the 26-year-old Chilean nearly taking the opening set Sunday.

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