The Swiss Maestro. Club Fed. Fed Express. Rog. Fedi. Federnator. Darth Fed. No matter what nickname we choose to call Roger Federer, it seems to work. The only thing that is perhaps greater then the amount of nicknames we give him is the broad appeal he has across the tennis landscape. What’s his secret? How can one man create so much buzz, so much love, so much admiration? Sure, many people love Rafa or Novak, but even they can’t compete with Roger’s high rankings in overall popularity amongst the three most important pillars in tennis. The Fans, The Teaching Professionals/Coaches and Media/Press
For The Fans
Sports fans appreciate skill. They respect dominance. They admire history making achievements. They love champions. Why not adore Roger Federer? He has more grand slam singles titles than any other male in history. He’s been number 1 in the world longer than any other male player in history. I won’t list all the stats as you can exhaust yourself with a google search after this article and see for yourself. But be prepared, the list of milestones and accomplishments seems to go on longer than Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. You’ve been warned.
Success on the tennis court is one thing but fans always gravitate towards the nice athletes. Federer is always friendly, always respectful, always willing to sign autographs, always willing to give back to the tennis community. What’s not to love? Do we need to inquire about his charitable causes? His Roger Federer Foundation supports access to quality education and has raised millions of dollars in the process.
A Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and The World Economic Forum named him a 2010 Young Global Leader in recognition of his leadership, accomplishments, and contributions to society. Natural Disasters only motivate him as evidenced by his planning and initiative of “Rally For Relief” to victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2005 as well as the 2010 Haitian Earthquake which produced the event “Hit For Haiti”. He was a recipient of the 2006 Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award. We could wax poetic about all the great humanitarian things he’s done, but the point is made.
It also helps Roger that he’s an ATP Tour Player of The Year Award winner five times. A fair player it seems as well with 8 Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Awards to his credit. But the most telling fact that Federer is beloved by his fans, has been the fact that he was voted the ATP Tour.com Fan Favorite every year since 2003. That’s a 10 year reign. Djokovic, Nadal, Murray are at 0. In fact, the only other players who received the fan favorite award (Kuerten, Safin) are retired. Yeah, I’d say the fans love their Fed.
Tennis Teaching Professionals/Coaches
Having taught and coached tennis at all levels for the last 15 years I’m confident in saying that Roger Federer is a tennis coach’s dream come true. All the hours on court that we attempt to comunicatethe virtues of pristine and classic foundation. The migraine inducing lessons that we toil with in order to push forward with modern technique and room for dynamic development. The tips, tricks, drills, kinesthetic cues and visual evidence that teaching professionals use trying to get our points across are endless. Yet, with Roger…students recognize the correctness with him more than any other player.
The classic mixed with the modern. The balance and grace mixed with the explosiveness and athleticism. The efficiency of a Federer stroke mixed with the jaw dropping spin, power and control that is produced makes any tennis coach and student swoon. Simultaneously. Students are enamored by it. Coaches deeply respect it. Coaches are an opinionated bunch but Roger is that guy that all tennis teaching professionals can go to on a specific stroke and often agree he’s the model. Every teaching professional I’ve ever met, and I’ve met many, consistently use Roger Federer as an example to their students. If you visit any online tennis teaching website or instructional web series, and there are numerous, I’m confident they always have Roger Federer as an example. Roger is the poster child for complex and advanced stroke techniques that seem approachable to the non professional. Fans love him, tennis teaching professionals thank him. Tennis students across the country often hear their local club pro expel endless facts, tidbits and in my students’ case, a monologue whose length and visible rivals that of any Master Thespian’s greatest solo performance.
Many students admire and look up to their tennis teaching professional or coach. Some loyal students will do literally anything, and I mean anything, based on their coaches advice. Admiring and appreciating Roger Federer is often one of those tasks. Federer’s technique is what coaches ideally want to see, but never do, until Roger came along. Is Roger absolutely perfect in his technique. No. but he is the closest thing we have to technical perfection? In some instances, yes. Has he been known to shank a few forehands? Of course, but who hasn’t? Are there some flaws on his backhand? Perhaps. Fact of the matter is, we’ll never have the “perfect” tennis player, but Roger Federer is as close as we may ever get. Teaching professionals know this and savor it. Thank you Roger for making our jobs easier and giving students evidence to our teachings.
The Media and Endorsements
For a man of Federer’s stature who speaks multiple language (Swiss-German, German, French, English) his media demands for different interviews is quite overwhelming. He handles it all with considerable aplomb. Federer shuffles from one reporter to another, in between shifting his lingual gears from English to German, to French and back to English. Much like his game, the transition is smooth. Always good for a laugh, a quick story and pleasentries, he leaves interviewers satisfied that they got a great piece of substance that is sure to make their news editor happy. He makes himself available to all and was the most approachable World #1 ever. He carried that mantle with a sense of pride but also with deep responsibility and obligation. Other world #1’s before Federer shouldered that load but were quite open about the demands and the Damocles sword hassle that comes with it. To disrespect, question, or infer there is an issue with Federer or his game seems to be blasphemous in the tennis cathedral. As long as the media is on his side and Roger on theirs, don’t expect scathing articles comparable to a Guy Fieri restaurant review any time soon.
According to Forbes, Roger Federer earns an estimated $50+ Million in endorsements. He has the most impressive endorsement portfolio in the sports world with high end luxury and marketplace dominating brands like Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, Credit Suisse, Lindt Chocolate, Moet & Chandon, Nike and Gillette. His charming personality, European style, and record breaking career have him perfectly positioned for positive press on Madison Avenue and other prime addresses around the world. As more industry leading companies showcase Roger Federer as their spokeman or brand ambassador, display him on television commercials and in glossy print, his PR and iconic status grow exponentially.
It’s usually easy to dislike someone with this much exposure. But it’s the public that demands it. He’s a nice guy and one of the greatest of all time. So of course fans want to see him play. They tune into the networks, they buy the tickets to see him perform live. They buy the RF logo shirts to publicly announce they are supportive of the Swiss Maestro. Tennis coaches use him as the textbook. The proof. The evidence that tennis can be both modern and classical. Delicate yet powerful. The easy answer to a students question on technique…”Watch Roger”. Media and Corporations love him just as much. He embodies class, character and high end performance. As much as his wins/losses are on our TV’s, his strokes in the voices our the coaches and face is in our advertisements, are we tired of him yet? If you were able to read this whole article, I guess the answer is still a resounding “NO”.
Thanks for reading.
Kyle LaCroix (@TennisTycoon)