Tony Veitch: Federer's class has proved me wrong

By Tony Veitch

Roger Federer lifts the winner's trophy after defeating Rafael Nadal in the Miami Open final. Photo / Getty Images.
Roger Federer lifts the winner's trophy after defeating Rafael Nadal in the Miami Open final. Photo / Getty Images.

In this business where opinions are everything, I'm happy to climb down off my soapbox and say when it comes to Roger Federer, I got it badly wrong.

A year or so ago, I was asking "why keep going, Roger?"

After all, he has 17 grand slam titles in the bank, won the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year four years running and held the world No 1 ranking for 302 weeks.

And to top it all off, many believe him worthy of the title of "the greatest to have played the game".

He is also a husband, father of two sets of twins and has career earnings that could buy him a small country. Game, set and match.

Yet Federer's greatness has gone to another level, proving me and so many others wrong.
His performances so far in 2017 have been astonishing.

Much like Tiger Woods' quest for another major, we wondered if Federer would ever dominate centre court for two long weeks.

He did just that at the Australian Open against the bloke that's "owned" him through his 19 years as a professional, Rafael Nadal.

But what Federer has done is reinvent himself as a player. He's more attacking off both wings, he's coming to the net far more often. But most of all, he's playing with freedom, he's playing with no boundaries.

The Great One is now taking 10 weeks off. He may skip the clay court season, including the second grand slam of the year, the French Open.

But if he can continue this incredible winning run in 2017, surely he will be one of the stories of the year.

Imagine if he could retire on top, the No 1 player in the world again. That is the stuff of champions.

Inflated Lions tour accomodation costs shouldn't have been unexpected

I'm over the barrage of stories about price gouging for the Lions tour.

A motel in Wellington for the second test is likely to set you back close to $1000 a night and the flash establishments are charging upwards of $3000 a night.

It's not a great look for New Zealand and there are some surprised and disgruntled Lions supporters.

But let's put this into perspective. Every major sporting event in the world has the same issue.

In 2000 at the Sydney Olympics, we stayed in a hideous, grey concrete dump and it cost a fortune.

It was no different when we took Game of Two Halves on the road for the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Again, we stayed in the world's most expensive beige, mould ridden apartment.

What's being missed is that New Zealand as a tourist destination has never been more popular.

A friend trying to get a room in Auckland a few weeks back could find only two and they were $800 each.

The Lions are a big story and inflated prices make for a good headline. But let's just cut to the chase.

Twenty thousand fans will arrive on our shores for a once-in-a-12-year experience - what else did you expect?

Even the best take shortcuts to win

What we learned this week?

Shock horror, golfers cheat.

Two blokes with nine Masters jackets between them opened the lid on what they call blatant bending of the rules on the PGA Tour - cheating.

Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson both accused fellow pros of taking liberties when it comes to where their ball is marked and where they actually putt from.

What's one or two centimetres between friends?

This follows on from the whole Lexi Thompson saga which has dominated the lead-up to the Masters - no easy feat.

So, what are we saying? The pure and virtuous game of golf is flawed after all.

It is played by people of all levels and abilities who don't mind pushing the game's endless rules ever so slightly.

Remember that story of Bill Clinton playing a round as US President and deciding to give his ball a wee kick back into the fairway? He's the most powerful man in the world, after all.

Then there's the best cheating story of them all. The round of 34, which included 11 holes in one, played by the late North Korean despot Kim Jong Il.

And the moral of the story is that even the best will take shortcuts in the name of winning.

- NZ Herald

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