Why is tennis the greatest sport

TENNIS: the biggest comeback since Muhammad Ali in 1974

TENNIS: the biggest comeback since Muhammad Ali in 1974

Sports director Andreas Ineichen on Roger Federer's incredible comeback, which he crowned with victory in Melbourne.

Maybe it was prediction, maybe it was just a coincidence: These days and weeks, a noble Swiss watch brand advertised during the Australian Open on Swiss television that the importance of a sporting event for contemporary history could often only be assessed in retrospect. But on this wonderful Sunday for Swiss sport, the exception confirmed the rule: What Roger Federer achieved by winning his 18th Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne is the biggest comeback of an individual athlete since Muhammad Ali in 1974. The 35-year-old Basel bidder has become one of the absolute greatest icons that world sport has ever produced. And that answers the seemingly eternal question once and for all, who is the greatest tennis player of all times and countries.

Roger Federer and the US boxer Muhammad Ali, who died last June at the age of 74, have more than one outstanding talent in common that only champions are blessed with. For years they have shaped the bel étage of their sport with ease and inimitable elegance. But when difficulties arose in their careers and the great successes failed to materialize, they overcame all resistance with fighting strength and confidence and returned beyond the age of 30. To the very top. That makes your career all the more special and valuable. Ali was stripped of the world title in 1967 because he refused to do military service for the United States during the Vietnam War. It was not until 1970 that he received a boxing license again, but a year later he suffered a defeat in the “fight of the century” against the then world champion Joe Frazier. But four years later, in the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Kinshasa / Zaire (today: Democratic Republic of the Congo), the then 32-year-old Ali managed to return to the throne in a legendary fight.

In the autumn of his career, Federer won his first major title since Wimbledon 2012 against “feared opponent” Rafael Nadal in Melbourne, in his first Grand Slam tournament after a six-month injury break. And that when the swan song for him and his already unique career in the editorial offices and at the regulars' tables had long since reached the last verse. With his phenomenal return he gave the lie to all know-it-alls.

The charisma emanating from a Roger Federer and Muhammad Ali inspires and inspired millions of contemporaries and young athletes around the world. Ali, the loudmouth, gained enormous popularity through his political engagement among the black population in the USA, who at that time had taken up the fight against racial discrimination. But also the affection for Federer, the gentleman, has reached a global level that can hardly be put into words. The maestro has been our country's most likable ambassador for years.

Ali remains the greatest of all time because his importance went far beyond sport. But right behind it is Federer, the greatest Swiss athlete of the last and probably also the next 1000 years.

Andreas Ineichen, Head of Sports

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