Federer has long mentored or practiced with talented Swiss prospects and intends to maintain at it in retirement, but for now no next-wave Swiss men’s star has emerged within the wide wake of Federer and his compatriot Stan Wawrinka, who won three major singles titles and helped Federer win the Davis Cup for Switzerland in 2014.
A part of the challenge in mimicking Federer is that his variety of play is so demanding.
“He does things other guys just aren’t comfortable attempting to do. He literally is playing six inches behind the baseline against these guys who’re absolutely crushing balls with these rackets and strings and he’s picking up balls on the rise, virtually half-volleying them off the baseline, and continues to be capable of control and dictate play. Most guys have a look at that and say, ‘I could never play like that,’” Brad Stine, who coaches Tommy Paul, said in a recent interview. “I’ve described Roger sometimes as being probably the most stubborn player in tennis, because he just won’t give ground. It’s really high-risk tennis but his feet are so good and his eyes are so good that he just won’t give in.”
Grigor Dimitrov was long one in all the few who tried to model their game on Federer’s. But Dimitrov, 31, has not managed to make the leap to major champion. Alcaraz, the Spanish prodigy, just did it at age 19 by winning the U.S. Open and rising to No. 1. Federer was his biggest role model, and Alcaraz’s all-court improvisational ability, next-gear power, fabulous movement, yen to attack the online and talent to hit winners from nearly anywhere definitely do feel familiar, even and not using a one-handed backhand and with a greater drop shot.
“You have got to be extremely explosive and should move extremely well to give you the option to play Roger’s type of tennis,” Ljubicic said. “And Carlos is the primary player that’s capable of even attempt to play that way, and I’m joyful to see he’s doing it, since it is spectacular, literally one highlight after the opposite. I hope he can stick with it, even when he can’t go so long as Roger did, because I see numerous people and youngsters getting excited.”
Federer’s biggest tennis legacy will likely not be tactical or technical. Having played until 41 and having returned to No. 1 at age 36, he has prolonged the timeline in men’s tennis, managing his schedule and fitness training with great forethought. He has set an example along with his interpersonal skills, as well, which have helped him attract (and keep) sponsors in addition to fans worldwide.