Federer has long been mentored or coached by talented Swiss prospects and plans to continue in retirement, but no next wave of Swiss men’s stars has emerged in the wake of Federer and compatriot Stan Wawrinka’s extensive campaign. In 2014, he helped Federer win the Davis Cup for Switzerland.
One of the challenges of imitating Federer is that his style of play is very demanding.
“He does things that other people are not comfortable doing. He’s playing six inches behind the tee with people who are absolutely smashing balls with these rackets and strings and volleying them halfway off the tee and still controlling and directing the game. Brad Steen, who coaches Tommy Paul, said in a recent interview that most guys look at that and say, ‘I can’t play like that.’ “I’ve described Roger as the most stubborn player in tennis, because he doesn’t give up. It’s really high-risk tennis, but his feet are so good and his eyes are so good that he doesn’t just lose.
Grigor Dimitrov was one of the few who tried to shape his game against Federer. But the 31-year-old Dimitrov could not advance to the main championship. Spanish prodigy Alcaraz made his debut at the age of 19, winning the US Open and rising to No. 1. Federer was his biggest role model, and Alcaraz’s all-court improvisation skills, next-gear power, prowess, yen to attack the net and hit winners from anywhere are certainly recognizable, even without a one-handed backhand and a better drop shot.
“To play Roger’s type of tennis, you have to be very explosive and move well,” Lubicic said. “And Carlos is the first player to even try to play that way, and I’m happy to see him do it, because it’s amazing, literally one after another. Even though he can’t go as long as Roger did, I see a lot of people and kids enjoying it.”
Federer’s greatest tennis legacy may not be tactical or technical. He played until 41 and returned to No. 1 at the age of 36, extending his schedule in men’s tennis and managing his program and fitness regimen with great foresight. He exemplified his personality, which helped him attract (and keep) sponsors and fans, as well as fans around the world.