Roger Federer from start to today. In this new column, we will explore the Swiss Maestro's career, focusing our analysis in several stages not only on his victories and his records, also on anecdotes, events that happened behind the scenes, and curiosities.
In short, the genesis of a champion. Roger Federer was born in Basel on 1981 August 8th, under the zodiac sign of Leo, such as Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Mats Wilander, Victoria Azarenka and many others. Dad Robert and mom Lynette took him on a tennis court for the first time at the age of six.
Living on the border between Switzerland, France and Germany (precisely in Riehen and then in Münchenstein, near Basel) Federer knows several languages: he speaks Swiss German (his mother tongue), English and French, fluently.
He also knows a little bit of Italian. In 1991, he began taking private tennis lessons every week, while he also playing soccer (Federer is a great supporter of the Basel soccer team). At 12, the Swiss Maestro decided to shift his focus entirely on tennis.
A choice that was fundamental not only for his career but perhaps it was the first watershed moment of his life. At 14, Federer became the Swiss champion and started to train at the Swiss National Tennis Center. The first real approach to professional tennis, however, took place a few years later, in 1996.
That season Roger played the first matches in the ITF Juniores Tour. The first turning point of his career, however, took place at Wimbledon 1998. Federer won the Juniores tournament and, at the end of '98, the Orange Bowl.
The first magical year he finished first in the junior rankings and as the ITF junior World Champion. The Swiss's adolescience and also his first matches in the ATP Tour are not exactly the same as now, and this is normal.
He was not today's gentleman, but a bad boy. Furthermore, he did not consider himself a very talented player: "I wasn't super talented at 10, 14 or 16 years old. I was good: until 15-16, I was a decent young player, and in '98 I won Wimbledon juniors and all started from there.
I thought, 'Oh my God, I can beat the top-100', and everyone talks about you being number one. Having idols was very important to me. Seeing Becker, Edberg and Sampras, I wanted to be like them, but I didn't think to do it.
Training? I didn't consider it necessary. Now I think differently, because I know that you don't go to the gym to be beautiful, but to get stronger. It was hard for me at the beginning." Considering his adolescent temperament, Federer himself said that: "I was short-tempered, excessive, unprofessional, disrespectful.
I didn't know how to behave. I played against Safin and in games with Marat we competed with those who behaved worse." One of his young many dramas, between insults and smashed rackets. In short, a Roger Federer that you don't expect, but that, as you will read in the next article, was already ready for his evolution.