For an interview with the author, click here.
Monday, 29 November 2010
They exclaimed, “He is finished!”
They jeered, “He can never do it. Ever!”
They began writing his sporting obituary.
Each time his doubters had something to throw at him, he remained unfazed and inimitably so. He wasn’t playing for them. Why would he? It wasn’t the prospect of gaining a permanent residence‐ship at the Valhalla of Immortals, either. There was only one person he was responsible to – his own self. He may not have been considered as the present day number one, yet he was hunted. All because he seemed to fail in front our eyes. Damn the surreal expectations of us mere mortals! Statistics have a story to say, too. And so it was to be – the die had been cast; the bar, raised.
In sport, there is a “number one” and then there is everyone else. Any individual who has occupied the numero uno slot for a long time running will find it rather unfamiliar when he is deposed and relegated to being part of “the rest”. To scale a peak is one thing, but to scale, reside and rule for years together is quite another.
Agreed ‐ by law ‐ that the hunter is often better positioned than the hunted. But sport is a different habitat altogether. Being hunted year‐in, year‐out and yet never stepping off the pedestal creates a divine aura. One that shields you from the brouhaha of vagrant onlookers. It is when you are back as the hunter that you try and grope for all the faculty that had propelled you to become the hunted in the first place! Weird. Period.
Weathering a storm is quite an arduous task but repeatedly thwarting tireless attacks from the nether hordes? All that, evidently so, differentiates a contender from a pretender. The certified master and a redoubtable, but greenhorn apprentice.
Coming back to the man of our moment – he reminds us how a true champion should be. The quintessential embodiment of talent sublime, grace non‐pareil, humility profound and probably a faint streak of arrogance – to put the opposition in their place. He may be Master to many an aspiring apprentice, but he is forever an ardent student of the game who cherishes every moment of battle. One who understands that possessing a supposedly complete repertoire is equivalent to owning a drop that makes the mighty ocean. After all, it was Sir Isaac Newton himself who spake thus – “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
No one would sound even remotely unctuous when either of the names “Roger Federer” or “Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar” pop‐up to fit, nay, complete that earlier statement.