By Scott Capper
Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer’s seventh win at Wimbledon after two years without a Grand Slam victory and his return to the top of the hierarchy had the Swiss media all in a lather on Monday.
At 30, Federer equalled a record by claiming the tournament title for the seventh time on Sunday, beating Andy Murray of Britain, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. He also ensured he would be sitting on top of the world ranking, putting him level with American Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks as number one.
The media had openly questioned whether the Swiss player could return to the top and if he should have retired rather than press on after being regularly outplayed by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal for the past two years. Certainly not because he was not respected.
“The fact that Switzerland has never had such a good ambassador, and probably never will have, has never been questioned over the past two-and-a-half years,” wrote the tabloid Blick. “There was always respect for his career.”
Yet there was plenty of doubt if he still had what it takes to be the king of the hill.
“This victory, which seemed improbable a year ago, is a sort of rebirth of a champion, the biggest in tennis history, who can only be worshipped and even venerated,” said the Tribune de Genève. “Except Roger Federer is no saint. At least not yet.”
The Blick cranked up the hyperbole, stating that “the star named Roger shines brighter than ever” and that “the world could only bow before him”.
Federer’s hometown Basler Zeitung laid it on as well. “Roger Federer is without a doubt the best player in tennis history,” its sports correspondent wrote.
This evaluation was backed up by Fribourg’s La Liberté, which said that by reclaiming the number one position this week, Federer had completed the last step that enabled him to wear the honorary mantle of best player of all time.
For Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger, the Swiss player’s performance at Wimbledon was his biggest triumph. “He managed to turn back the clock and defy the laws of this sport,” it said.
Even if younger players were ready to shake up the hierarchy, it added, “Federer was not ready to accept it.”
So how did Federer stop the clock? According to the Tages-Anzeiger, it boiled down to the player being not just an exceptional talent, but also an excellent manager of his resources and his career.
For the Berner Zeitung, Federer has “dominated not thanks to brute force, but because of his unmatched play”.
Nobody expects the Swiss star to stop his winning ways either. “Roger Federer’s hunger is still there,” wrote Geneva’s Le Temps. “He is perhaps unconsciously more selective in his approach, a fact that is reinforced when history beckons.”
The Tribune concurred, adding that “it would be wrong to think that the treat he served himself in the grass court temple won’t be followed by others”.
Whatever the outcome, the Berner Zeitung advises tennis fans to enjoy his future outings. “Who knows when we will see someone with so many shots, so elegant, so talented, play again,” it said.
For Zurich’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Federer’s place in history is assured. “The future will open the eyes of the few who didn’t realise how exceptional Federer’s career has been,” it wrote. “His seventh Wimbledon victory was the crowning achievement of a golden era.”