September 10, 2007

Federer or Woods?

This just in: Roger Federer is good at tennis. Federer won his fourth straight U.S. Open title on Sunday, and so the debate rages on - who's better at what they do? Federer or Tiger Woods?

I'm having a hard time believing that this Roger Federer fellow is human. The man is simply a tennis machine. What he's been doing in tennis is simply incredible. Watching him in action is like watching Michael Jordan on the basketball court, or Wayne Gretzky on the ice. He is the best in tennis today, and is making a strong bid for the title of the best tennis player ever.

Federer is the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920's to win the U.S. Open four times in a row. It was his 12th major tournament title and, at a remarkable 26 years old, he's only two major's away from the record of 14 set by American Pete Sampras.

I watched a lot of Pete Sampras as a youth. He was a phenomenal tennis player, and was my favourite growing up. I'll never forget the classic Sampras-Agassi battles. It is, however, Federer's time. Move over, Pistol Pete. At only 26, there isn't a doubt in my mind Federer will break Sampras' record. All records are made to broken, right?

What makes it easy to cheer for Federer is the fact that it's impossible to hate him. Seriously, I've never met anyone who actually hates Federer. It truly is impossible. He's a man of few words and emotions, and is a humble superstar. He knows he's the best tennis player on the planet, but you wouldn't know it by his actions.

Federer also, it seems, does not feel pressure. None. Nada. Zilch. In the final against Novak Djokovic, he held five set points in the first set, and another two in the second set. It was incredible to watch. It was like he just flipped a switch, took control, and simply refused to lose. A stunned Djokovic could only look to the heavens and wonder how he could possibly let seven set points go to waste.

The exploits of Roger Federer and Tiger Woods cannot be overlooked. We, as sports fans, have the privelege of watching two of the finest athletes of our time dominate their respective sports in ways no men ever have. Both Federer and Woods have a way of making tennis and golf - two rather difficult sports - look ridiculously simple.

After winning the PGA championship in August, Tiger Woods now has 13 career major titles under his belt, and 60 career tournament wins overall. He's only five away from the record of 18 majors, set by none other than the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus. Woods is only 31 years old. Nicklaus was 35 when he won his 13th. It's only a matter of time before Woods becomes golf's greatest statistical player.

On a side note, I wonder how many gold and green jackets Tiger actually has in his closet. I wonder if he wears the jackets at home. I wonder if he wears them to parties, or when he has company. Hmm...

Tiger Woods was born to play golf. Roger Federer was born to play tennis. It's as simple as that, folks. At the end of the day, however, I've got to go with Roger Federer on this one. Simply because tennis is so much more of a physically demanding sport.

Federer has such immense talent and endurance. He has won five straight Wimbledon titles, and now four straight U.S. open titles. His consistency, both physically and mentally, is nothing short of astounding.

But you tell me, who would you take?


Anuraag Joshi said...

I have debated this subject with several people recently, and one of the key points that I keep bringing up is competition.

In tennis, Federer must face a total of a minimum of 6 or a maximum of 8 players (depending on the tournament) to win a title. Impressive, not easy. However, Woods must face a field of players that can range in size from 90 to 120 players.

Don't get me wrong, both players are a joy to watch, and being able to see such greatness is an honour. But the fact that Tiger must overcome such a large group moves him to the top of the debate... barely.