There were tears aplenty. And they made everyone’s day. Given the age and struggles that Roger Federer had gone through before winning the Australian Open on January 28, they were very apt indeed. In the end, the most sensational part of the entire event was Federer lifting his 20th Grand Slam singles title, which was, after the fact, no surprise – not even at the age of 36, in a sport where the spoils have generally been reserved for a much younger crowd. Just like Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams, Federer has redefined physical and mental endurance limits of humans. After not winning a major title for five years, he has now won three of the last five in a phase of his career when he insists that he would have been content with just one more. So, what made this late-life transformation possible? It transpires that the man who helped the Swiss international win the tournament is an Indian!
No, unlike former F1 multiple champion Michael Schumacher, it was not a physical trainer behind this turn in fortunes. Well, to cut to the chase, a day prior to the men’s final of Australian Open, Rohan Bopanna and Federer practised together. Now, while this may seem business as usual, but it should be known that each and every aspect, including whom to practice with and that too just a day before the final, is a crucial strategic decision. Rohan did not happen to be on court just because he was passing by, he was picked for certain skills that he brought to the court that Roger required.
Bopanna took to Instagram and posted a video of him exchanging shots with Federer. He said,”Just a relaxing Saturday afternoon hit @rogerfederer@davidoff10s @ivanljubicic@australianopen . Video courtesy @gaurangpt #tennis #goat #melbourne#tennislife #australianopen.”
On January 28, under the closed arena of Rod Laver Arena, Federer won his 20th grand slam by securing his sixth Australian Open. He defeated Croatian international Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. With the win, Federer became the oldest man to win the Open since one of his role models, Ken Rosewall, in 1972.
The win has been dubbed as one of the most important memories and finest late-career runs in any sport. And although Federer went unbeaten into the final, Cilic pushed him to a fifth with his power baseline game and with Federer’s nerves and serves betraying him patches. Whatever it is it is a day that has gone down in history, something which will be passed on from generation to generation and also inspire many in the coming years.