Tennis great Jimmy Connors paid a great compliment – albeit somewhat back-handed – to Roger Federer, after Federer won his 100th tournament.
In welcoming Federer to the “Triple Digit Tournament Club”, Connors – who won 109 tournaments in his career – tweeted: “I’ve been a bit lonely – glad to have the company.”
Federer joined Connors in the style of a true champion: he took just 69 minutes to blow away Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 to win the Dubai Championship on Saturday.
The 37-year-old Swiss legend’s amazing run started in 2001 in Milan. He has battled on and off with injury in recent years but has demonstrated a gritty resilience in clawing his way back into the top echelons of tennis.
South Africans like two things about Roger Federer, apart, of course, from his prodigious talent and discipline. South Africans like that he is such an all-round nice guy.
Few sporting greats at the top of their game have been as accessible to the media or as modest (in victory or in defeat).
Plus, his mother is a South African and he frequently visits SA. So, we as a country can bask vicariously is his glory and tell ourselves sports success is in our national DNA.