Roger Federer of Switzerland waves to the fans as he holds the runner up trophy after the Gentlemen's Singles Final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 6, 2014 in London, England.
There is something in the way he moves. There always has been. There are not too many figures in sport who can enchant the viewing public the way Roger Federer does.
There are not too many performers who can nudge this onlooker out of bed having worked through Saturday night and into Sunday morning with eyeballs as red as Fed's Switzerland flag yet suddenly feel as enlivened as if one was sitting quaffing ice cold beer and fresh prawns on a beach with a Caribbean sunset slowly disappearing before you.
Watching Federer play tennis remains an intensely pleasurable experience. It should be given out as part of a relaxation therapy on the NHS. Never has there been a sight for sore eyes in tennis like witnessing the 'Artful Roger'. We'll miss him when he is gone.
When you think of Federer, you immediately imagine grace, beauty and bewitching athleticism. You think of all the gorgeous things that professional sport should be about. You think of Muhammed Ali halting Sonny Liston, Maradona skipping beyond football's hatchet men, Sachin Tendulkar obliterating a Test attack or Ronnie O'Sullivan compiling a maximum as if he is playing pool in a pub.
You think of the very basics of tennis in its rawest form of knocking a ball back across a net being carried out the way it was intended from its origins. Well before men like Fred Perry once danced around Centre Court in long trousers in the 1930s.
More than a tennis player, he is a sporting artist, dabbing his brushstrokes on the canvas of the tennis courts the world over for the best part of 16 years. As we witnessed over the past fortnight in London, grass seems to highlight the subtle elegance of the man better than other surfaces. The yellow ball on grass accompanying a flashing Federer backhand remains utterly glorious, a stand-alone moment in professional sport that should be ring-fenced for posterity alongside his baubles.
Wimbledon has always complemented his innate bounce more than most venues. A classic venue for the ultimate stylist. At the age of 32 with 17 Grand Slam titles behind him - and two sets of twins in front of him - his legs show no signs of creaking.
That he should lose to the majestic Novak Djokvovic (6-7(7) 6-4 7-6(4) 5-7 6-4, for the record) in his ninth appearance in a Wimbledon final was not shameful. That he should fall agonisingly short of a record eighth title at the All England club two years after clasping his seventh was not because of the advancing of years.
Rather it was down to a spot of good fortune deserting him, a few key points here and there that might well have fallen on his side of the net only to narrowly elude him. And of course an opponent in Djokovic who does not really care to relent.
But then neither does Federer.
Moving towards the concluding years of his starry career, there were junctures of this final that should provide Federer with real belief that more Grand Slams lie within him.
There were moments when he clearly confused Djokovic. To achieve such a feat against such a supreme athlete, perhaps the fittest and most bendable figure to play tennis, should be enough to sustain Federer. Certainly in the immediate future with the US Open at Flushing Meadows coming into view next month.
His ability to escape from 5-2 behind in the fourth set with Djokovic reading his serve and smelling the winning post was astounding. Djokovic had Championship point, but Federer saved himself before managing to snare another four straight games in forcing the fifth set.
When they set off for the decider, there was a real feeling in the air that he could have become the first man since Robert Falkenberg in 1948 to come from Championship point down to carry off the Grand Slam on grass.
Federer had intimated after his win over Milos Raonic in his semi-final that there be won't be another ten of these days out, but that does not mean he should hanker after another one or two.
It must become extremely tedious when Federer attends post-match press conferences in having to field questions about his future. And whether or not he can win more Grand Slams.
The answer to that should be a firm who knows? Nobody can say with any certainty that he will win another Grand Slam, but then neither should we begin penning his obituary. Let's put it this way: he is better equipped to make good on his vast reserves of natural ability than he was two weeks ago.
Is he too old to win another Grand Slam? Obviously not. How can he be when he dropped serve only once in reaching the final of Wimbledon, swatting aside younger opponents including fellow Swiss and Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter-finals, and Raonic, aged 23, in the last four.
How can anyone question his fitness levels when he contested his final four matches in six days? In the final, Federer covered 4,096 metres to Djokovic’s 3,773.
Did he benefit from an easy draw at Wimbers? No. He was tackling Wawrinka while Djokovic was facing Maric Cilic in the last eight. Rafael Nadal dropping out in the round of 16 assisted his quest, but then the Spanish player no longer seems as potent on grass as when he lifted the tournament in 2008 and 2010.
Certainly not as comfortable as Federer remains at the venue.
Is Federer's nerve holding up a month short of his 33rd birthday? Obviously. Otherwise he would have been dead long before they reached the fifth set yesterday. Djokovic twice broke Federer only to be broken back twice in the fourth set by a figure who somehow clung to the contest like rust.
It is to his eternal credit that he walked off court clutching first prize in the face of Federer's longevity.
Prince William, David Beckham, Hugh Jackman, Bradley Cooper and Samuel L Jackson, to name but a few of the beautiful folk, all jostled for prime viewing spots on Centre Court. They all crammed into Centre Court to watch with their bulging pockets, and pampered lifestyles. And how they loved it.
But none of their folding stuff can buy what Federer has. With around £50m banked in career prize money, Federer could not afford was he has. His ability to entertain on a tennis court with his stylish gait is a one-off. It is a sensation he will never replicate in retirement.
Despite boasting 17 Slams, some with argue that he is not the greatest. Some will wonder how he can be classified the greatest if he has lost 23 matches to Nadal. And won only 10. Nadal is three Slams behind Federer on 14. If Federer is arguably the greatest, he is certainly the classiest. There is no brute force in his behaviour.
When asked about whether this would be it for him and Wimbledon finals, Federer responded: “Whatever it is, you’ve just got to wait and see. Maybe there’s much more to come."
You never know what is around the corner. One remembers the US golfer Mark O'Meara picking up his only two golf Majors - at the US Masters and the British Open in 1998 - beyond the age of 41 seemingly with his best years behind him.
Rather than think about attempting to finish on 18, why should Federer not contemplate 20? These are hardly days to rage against the dying of the light.
"The world breaks everyone, and afterwards many are strong at the broken places," wrote the American author Ernest Hemingway.
How one responds to loss is crucial to the optimism of the human condition in moving forth.
There is not much broken with his game. There never has been. Call it an Indian summer or enhancing his legacy, there is yet scope for Federer to improve himself.
If he wants it, the closing scripture of his fabled career could be as pleasurable as a Caribbean sunset.
- Sports & Recreation
- Roger Federer
- Novak Djokovic