When I am writing this post, I am doing so with a very heavy heart. At home, with nothing else to do, I was flooded by all my so-called-old memories. Well, staying at home gives me the feeling of retirement in some way - me, my laptop and my Internet. But there is a limit to everything and I knew that.
But I never realized that limits apply to even the greatest of the greats. There comes a time when even the greatest have to acknowledge that they are mortal, that they too can be defeated.
When at the peak of his career, even the great Schumacher once said "I don't think I can count myself in this battle any more. It was like trying to fight with a blunted weapon.... If your weapons are weak you don't have a chance." He was referring to the new rules and regulations that were being made by the FIA. Schumacher was a racer, a true racer. There will always be critics of his racing, but those who have seen him race know that he does not race for points or for glory - he races to win! I cannot count how many times I have seen him start so far behind and work his way to the front. In one race, he started in the 13th position and worked all his way to end just 0.2 seconds behind the winner Alonso in 2nd place. In his very last race, he started from the 10th place, fell to the 19th position and still managed to come 4th in the race when it ended! Such was his greatness.
F1 is not just a drivers sport, but a sport where each and every small detail matters. One-tenth of a second is like eternity and gaining an advantage of even that time is a major boost. Schumi had the best car, but his spirit kept him running. If he was not the best, his teammate could have overtaken him easily, but it was nearly next to impossible to overtake this man! Schumacher showed that the race was still won by the driver, and that nothing else mattered. He was brash, but he had every right to do so.
In spite of his greatness, Schumacher was defeated twice by Alonso in his final two years. He conceded defeat to Alonso even before the final race of his career. Why? Because he knew himself and his own limitations. He had faith in himself and knew what would happen. Every champion has his day and Schumacher realized that. He retired with his head held high, a proud Ferrari Driver. I started seeing Formula 1 from 2004 and I was indeed privileged to see Schumacher come 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 3 seasons he was a part of.
Roger Federer - he was the one and only reason why I started watching tennis. I was not particularly interested to see the Williams sisters, who by then were dominating the sport. but when I heard that some male human being had managed to win 3 tournaments in a single year (2004), I was indeed very much surprised. Thankfullly, Roder repeated his feat the very next year (2005) and I watched each and every final of his with the same passion. He was indeed a God, his play was unmatchable! Opponents were clueless as to how to stop the Federer Express. He was more dominating than even the great Schumacher.
But something was wrong. The greatest player was missing a trophy - The French Open. A young kid was rising fast with his game fast improving. Two years in a row, same opponent, same result. This was disturbing. But then people thought "Oh well, Nadal is a French Open Specialist and a Clay court God, but the Fedex is the Wimbledon and U.S. Open hero, the hero we have been waiting for since the retirement of Sampras. He is unbeatable on the Grass Courts and his style of play is tough to match on the hard-courts too."
But then Nadal started to get better and better. In fact, had Federer not been there, Nadal would have mostly had a 4-man showdown with him, Djokovic, Roddick and Murray fighting out each tournament. Nadal would have won the clay-court games and the rest of the slams would have been shared among them. But then, the real challenge was Federer and Nadal rose up to the challenge.
Federer had dominated Tennis, perhaps like no other man had ever before. But his time was limited, and we can see in his current streak, that his time is slowly coming to go. He still has it in him to get that Sampras-tying slam, and he can also cross it. But then, he would need some luck and patience too. Nadal plays a lot and critics say that he may get injured because of his excessive playing. But he is young, and at 5 years younger than Federer, he holds the advantage. Federer has it in him, but needs a lot of patience for that.
What I wanted to say is, I am happy to witness a generation of greats in the two sports that I love to watch. I can proudly say that I belong to the generation that has seen the legendary Schumacher and is impeccable racing skills and the best of the Federer-Nadal rivalry. I really miss Schumacher and wish that he comes back to racing sometime. I really miss seeing the cool Federer and hope that he remains patient and wait for his 14th Grand Slam, something which will silence his critics who say that his time has come already.
Let us, for now, enjoy the emergence of two new-faces - The Brawn Team in F1 and Nadal, the unstoppable wall in Tennis.