When you follow any sport you develop an idea of the best possible way that sport can be played—the quintessence, the ultimate. My tennis ideal plays an attacking game, has a powerful serve, lives and dies at the net, is fast, clever and subtle, can hit shots from all angles, and has a near-psychic ability to know where the ball is going even before the ball does. Like Johnny Mac, only more.
This being an abstract optimum there were some elements I imagined but did not expect to ever behold in reality. If he could move gracefully, like a ballet dancer or kung fu master. If he had such foot speed, court sense and clairvoyance that he never had to hurry. If he never seemed to exert himself or perspire like a normal human being. If he had a regal bearing, good hair, and a stylish manner of dress—I told you this wasn’t supposed to be real.
Into this abstract ideal stepped Roger Federer.”