Dennis Timar is a true tennis enthusiast who often joins me on the Tennisnerd podcast. Now he has penned a letter to Roger.
A letter to Roger
Well, Rog… this has been a fun ride.
You made this ridiculously difficult sport look effortless. Some people even said that you don’t practice, or you don’t go to the gym, but we both know that you were one of the strongest guys on tour.
Our relationship was always a bit up and down. If someone likes this sport, he/she cannot just look at you and not admire the approach. You are a master at what you do.
I must admit, though, that while I thought for a long time that you are the GOAT (arguably, you still are), I never really rooted for you.
I mean, I guess you never really needed my support. You still crushed everyone. You were that good. Stylish, amazing, and simply too good.
A heartbreaking loss
One of the most challenging moments I experienced was that famous fifth set 16-14, which, even you have admitted, wasn’t deserved. Andy was the better player on that day. You single-handedly made that guy retire. If it weren’t for you, Andy Roddick would’ve finished with five Grand Slams or something. And to top all of that, he is your biggest fan. This is the kind of flavor you bring to the sport.
How you have operated a 90 sq inch Wilson in an era where Babolat started the ‘tweener’ revolution is amazing. And that you realized you need at least a 97 sq inch means you knew what you needed to return to the top when everyone wrote you off. You had never written yourself off, though, not even up until a few weeks ago when your knee gave way, when you still felt you could compete with the likes of Novak, Rafa, and the Carlitos of the tennis world.
The man beyond the numbers
We could talk about all the fantastic feats you have achieved, the 20 slams, the 103 tour titles, and so forth, but everyone could look this up with a brief search. What not all people know about you is that you did a Borg with your attitude.
You were quite an annoying, angry teenager who became cool personified on the court. The dominance that you had in your 20s was staggering. You only just lost your head a couple of times on the court, but those are easily forgotten.
Heck, you even announced your name on tour by beating my idol, Pistol Pete, in his own backyard. And then you became the best grasscourt player ever (sorry, Novak).
I thought it was interesting that you took the money and became the sponsored athlete of Uniqlo, but I wasn’t surprised that you have bought into On. Nike is still devastated by all this, I assume… Being a brand owner will give you some activities for the future, though. As will the senior tour, if you ever feel you want to beat everyone all over again.
Maybe you could even start a dubs career with Rafa… look at Paes or Nestor…
You made tennis better
You are an inspiration to millions worldwide, and what you have achieved in an era where it didn’t look achievable is staggering. It is a bit unlucky that (some might argue here) Novak and Rafa outshone you.
But have they?
You made tennis better. You took the serve and volley-dominated sport to become the battle of gladiators.
You didn’t have any weaknesses. The best serve tennis has ever seen, your forehand, a liquid whip, and apart from Rafa, no one could do anything to your backhand either. I don’t even want to talk about your volleys because that was and will always be unfair. When someone looks at the highlight reel of your career will never believe that they weren’t just exhibitions.
Not your biggest fan
I’m not your biggest fan, which is rare in a sport where you stole so many hearts. But I appreciate how you competed and what you gave to this beautiful sport. And, sadly, we won’t see you play beyond the Laver Cup.
One thing, that perhaps not everyone picks up on, but that I love, is your humor. You are a funny guy who always will be pleasant around a tennis court!
Thank you for everything, have a great retirement, and hope to see you around!