By Richard Kent, Staff Reporter
NEW YORK — Fans flock to his practices. They wait hours upon hours for a chance to get his autograph in clothing stores. His name is Roger Federer and he may be the most popular athlete in the world right now. If not, he is certainly on even footing with Ronaldo and Tiger Woods.
Currently ranked No. 2 in the world, Federer is the real deal. He is bright, articulate and most importantly, genuinely humble. What you see with him, is what you get.
He is not only beloved by fans, but also other players. And throw in the word admired there. He is the very central figure at this year’s U.S. Open.
Federer is blessed with the best of everything. He has great parents, adoring wife, Mirka and the top agent in tennis, Tony Godsick of Team8, an agency which he formed with Federer after leaving a long and successful stint with IMG.
How did this all happen? Well, it was more evolutionary than an instant success.
When Federer started in tennis in earnest, playing the big junior events in 1998, he had a temper and was not nearly as smooth and sophisticated as he is now. Age will do that to an athlete.
Over the years, that visage has changed immeasurably and Roger is now a finished product.
He sits with 20 Grand Slam wins. Will he get to 21? Perhaps at the 2019 Wimbledon. He is a master on the London grass, having won the event a staggering 8 times. Federer played France’s Benoit Paire Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Open.
For how long will he play? Well, he is committed through the 2019 Laver Cup in Geneva in September 2019. He could hang it up then at the age of 38, or play through the 2020 Olympics. He has never won an Olympic Gold in singles and prizes his Gold in doubles, won with fellow Swiss and good friend, Stan Wawrinka.
He is a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer in Newport and don’t expect to see him toil in the vineyards of senior tennis after retirement. He probably will play a series of exhibition matches for a few years, around the world, with his great rival, Rafael Nadal.
After that, it will be family first and then hard work on his business interests and his Foundation work.
That is Roger Federer in a nutshell.