Well this goes out to that Artisan among Artisans, Roger Federer. The first time I saw Federer play was in 2001 against Pete Sampras. Sampras was no longer the same. Age had taken its toll but he was still the best server in the game and on grass still the toughest to beat. Federer matched him serve for serve, shot for shot but he was still rough around the edges. Yet it was plain to see that the guy had class. Every moment of his seemed effortless. He didn’t seem to move fast and yet he was. His strokes were hit with grace but had every inch the power that other players mustered. Of course I didn’t make this analysis at the time. I was too busy watching. Eventually Federer did beat Sampras in five sets only to lose to Ivanesevic in the next round but that match showed what a talent this guy was.
Mind you Federer rising was no accident. He had been marked for greatness since winning the Junior Wimbledon. It was only a question of when.
Few would have predicted him breaking all the records set by Sampras though. It was being argued that the number of grand slams won by Sampras was too great and that it would take some time. Imagine then that the record couldn’t even last a decade.
Federer is the only player to reach ten consecutive grand slam finals. The next is a distant four. Imagine the level of consistency that this guy has and the total dominance over the rest of the field. His fitness is an oft ignored attribute. He has never retired from court during a match and he never ever looks tired during a match. Remember the Wimbledon final against Roddick where Roddick was drenched in sweat from head to toe but Federer seemed like he had just stepped out to play even after winning the Wimbledon. The very fact that he can combine such artistry with such consistency is a feat in itself.
The stats can go on and on but they will never reveal the big picture. The stats can never tell us that Federer has perhaps the most complete game of any tennis player who graced the court. He can outgun any baseliner but is a supreme volleyer as well with soft hands and fantastic, almost inhuman reflexes at the net. The disguise on his shots is phenomenal to say the least. Marat Safin commented that the ball seems to stay for the extra second on his racket which makes it difficult to judge where he is hitting the ball. His serve though not the fastest or the most powerful is very effective thanks to its disguise. The very fact that he tosses the ball in the same place no matter where he intends to serve is indicator enough.
Federer also possesses perhaps the greatest shot in the sport, his forehand has been called a liquid whip by McEnroe and rightly so. The power and the accuracy of his forehand is uncanny but there never seems to any brutishness behind the shot which marks the strokes of mere mortals. His dropshot is by far the finest in the game. No one else comes even close. The ball just stops dead in its tracks.
If he has a weakness it is his backhand but what a weakness it is. It seldom lets him down except during the French Open when the ball rises high and the opponent keeps the ball on his backhand side in fear of his forehand but only Nadal has been able to exploit this to great effect. During Wimbledon his backhand is deadly and he is able to strike winners from all over the court from seemingly unwinnable positions. The slice allows him to control the pace of the game and he usually dictates the proceedings.
Federer’s defensive game is top notch as well. He rarely gives away easy points. Even if someone like Potro is powering away he is able to use squash like shots to keep himself in the point and the moment there is a mistake Federer is ready. It takes a lot to beat Federer during the Grand Slams. He has never been upset by a outsider like say Nadal or Djokovic. It has always taken someone in the top five playing out of their skins to beat him in the Grand Slams. .Only Nadal and Del Potro have beaten him in a Grand Slam final.
The thing that separates Federer from the rest of the pack however is the fact that watching Federer play is never boring and always enjoyable. Watching some tennis matches is a drag, almost like they are playing out to a formula, long baseline rallies followed by a winner or an unforced error. With Federer the game seems open and even if he is going through the motions they are so full of grace that you wonder how a guy could possibly move that way. He is extremely light on his feet. He only moves as much as necessary and never seems to overrun the ball. His movement toward the ball is fluid and the balance is amazing.
When Federer plays there are so many what you call Federer moments. The shot between the legs that he hit with his back turned to the net against Djokovic during the dying moments of the US open semi final. What a shot it was. To hit a winner from that position would have been beyond anyone but Federer. The Wimbledon final in which he had a heartbreaking loss to Nadal produced two of the finest backhand winners one each from Federer and Nadal.
Federer is twenty eight now and it will be tough for him to play beyond 30. He obviously still has it and I do hope he continues playing for as long as possible because he is the one player who elevates tennis from a sport to an art form.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Well I think the title pretty much summarizes what the goal of this post is.
The placement experience was a pretty tense period. In fact I haven’t been this tense since a long time. It was probably because I had an off campus process with Google and despite doing well things did not work out. More than anything I guess what the placement process teaches you is that Life is not fair and that sometimes luck matters more than ability.
I already knew the above having seen the placement up close last year as Overall Placement Coordinator but experiencing it myself was a totally different experience. The difference was much more than I had imagined it to be.
To be fair, I think I was well prepared for the placement process. I had decided that I want to get a technical job and so wouldn’t apply to the other firms. Being in computer science I could take that decision. Looking back perhaps Himanshu and me were the unlikeliest people to take this stance because we had been amongst the most involved in extra curricular activities on campus. Himanshu and Me and learnt more in the last semester than we had in our four years of studying CS and we enjoyed it as well. I was fairly proficient in programming(always been a bit of programmer coding things just for fun) and we had a fair idea of what the data structures were and so on so forth.
So my interviews began. The first one was with Intel, a job that wouldn’t affect me a lot either ways. Anyways the interview was over the moment he asked me about my interest. Himanshu wanted to get a job at Intel and he aced it. He also got in the most dramatic fashion possible, not having a job and then having a job. His life always has Drama in abundance.
The next one was with Directi. This was an interview where I could explain how I got rejected. I just didn’t think it was fair. I was a bit slow to answer the questions but I did get all of them right at the end and would have thought that I might have another interview.
Microsoft was the most disappointing. I got everything wrong. It was as if someone switched my brain off during the interview.
I thought that I would get Adobe but messed up the interview as well. Despite doing as many questions as I possibly could every question seemed to be Googly or a Doosra with nothing that I was asked remotely resembling what I was prepared for. (Credit to the interviewers).
Then finally Oracle was on campus. This was a process that I was confident of clearing because they wanted to take a lot of people. The interviews for a change went well and I was really confident this time around. I could actually figure out how to solve the questions. Perhaps I will write a post detailing the questions that were asked.
The placement process was definitely one of the more tense periods (I haven’t had many I assure you) and a tremendous learning experience with four years of coursework learnt in a semester. Also perhaps for the first time I really experienced the fact that Life is unfair at times. Perhaps it evens out at the end. The fact that life is unfair at times means that you may be rewarded for doing less and not rewarded for more. Also the most important thing is not to think about the result. Nothing can freeze you more than thinking about the result (Easier said than done of course).
This post is about Microsoft's recent software which I happen to think is great. No other company has been criticized in recent history as much as Microsoft. Google and Apple have been hailed as saviors all the while giving Microsoft a bad rap. Talks have been going on about Microsoft going dead and not developing good software any more but have a look at their recent products.
They did deserve a bad rap for Windows Vista which was not the best OS but it did contain a number of key features and interface upgrades which became the foundation of Windows 7.
Windows 7 is by far the best operating system that I have used. It is user friendly and has the best keyboard shortcuts. It also has an incredibly intuitive way to do things. All the features are provided for by Snow Leopard but Window’s implementation seems much cleaner.
Office 2007 is and will remain the best Office tool for a long time to come. Open Office is a joke next to it. Google docs simply doesn’t have all the features in it.
Windows live essentials is a surprisingly robust set of tools. Windows live writer is a fully featured blog tool which makes it convenient to make blog posts. In fact this blog post is being written using Live Writer. Windows mail is better than Thunderbird. It may not be extensible but it really does look much better and is far more intuitive. Its integration with hotmail is superb. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of gmail. Windows live mail came to our rescue recently when we needed to transfer Rahul’s institute mail to any email id so that those email ids remain as is.(Your account at IIT Kanpur gets deleted once you are about to leave the institute so you better back up your mails or lose them all). We tried doing it using Thunderbid and setting up a gmail account using thunderbird. It was surprisingly slow and wasn’t getting any mail transferred. So we had the brainwave of using windows live mail to do the task. We started syncing the mail to Hotmail and it worked like a charm. All the mail was transferred effortlessly and with far less hassle.
This is of course not to belittle Google or gmail in any way. This is just a illustration that sometimes Microsoft can do a good job. The gmail web client is incredibly polished online client but hotmail is not bad either and gmail is very very slow when accessing mail using Thunderbird.
Apple and Google are arguably two of the companies who are the future of tech but Microsoft will not be far behind(It might be ahead matter of fact). The developer tools that they provide are just too good and dot NET is a terrific platform to build products in (One of the reasons is that developers can build products using any language they want).
Well that’s it for this post.