Life Lessons Courtesy of Federer, Roddick

"The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions." — Ellen Glasgow

Sports has the uncanny ability to mirror life. It can offer up life lessons right before your eyes that help you to understand how the world works. The current career trajectories of both Roger Federer and Andy Roddick are stark reminders of what sports can teach us all about life.

On the one hand, you have Roger Federer, one of the most revered sportsmen of all-time. It is near impossible to come across anyone that is not in awe of Federer's achievements and the way he conducts himself on and off the court. However, the Swiss' last year of competition has been far from what we have come to expect from the former world No. 1.

Federer's demise gives us our first life lesson. To put it simply, as we age we are incapable of doing some of the things that we once found, well, easy. Federer is now 27-years-old and while he continually beats many of his competitors, he struggles against the likes of Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and, to a lesser extent, Novak Djokovic.

Federer's throne was once a very secure pedestal. He reigned over the tour like an evil dictator — in other words, he reigned by fear. Now the throne is abandoned has Federer faces up to the reality that a revolution has occurred. The three people who can, and do, beat him are all much younger. Nevertheless, the key thing is that they appear to be hungrier. They are hungry for change.

While the young pretenders to the crown are striving to be that change, Federer seems stuck trying the same old things. He is reluctant to attack Nadal when the two juggernauts come to blows. His is reluctant to acquire, and stick with, a coach. He is, quite simply, reluctant to change.

"He who rejects change is the architect of decay." — Harold Wilson

Andy Roddick, on the other hand, is embracing change. The hard-hitting American is clearly aware that we live in a world where you either adapt or perish. Roddick's career is currently at somewhat of a crossroads. He has achieved a lot in his career by winning a major title, as well as four Masters Series. Added to that is the fact that he was once the best player in the world. Yeah, it's hard to remember, at times, that he once made it to the world No. 1 spot.

Roddick is just a year younger than Federer, thus it could be argued that they are both entering the final stretch in their successful careers. Unlike Federer, however, Roddick is more than willing to change.

Of the last few months, under the guidance of Larry Stefanki, the American has undoubtedly tried to add more dimensions to his game. A little over a year ago, he would've nearly always resorted to trying to hit his way out of trouble. The time when power was Roddick's only real threat has long gone now.

Roddick is a now a cerebral player who carefully constructs his points. No longer will go for that elusive winner. Roddick now possesses a lot of patience.

In recent weeks, his backhand slice has been a revelation. Often, he will delicately feather the ball from the back of the court with a Federer-like ability to land it approximately two feet inside the opponent's baseline. It's now a solid and dependable shot for Roddick to utilize, but he doesn't stop there. It's by no means rare to see Roddick follow up his backhand slice by charging towards the net.

Is Roddick a competent net player? Well, at times he can produce a moment of magic, then a few seconds later, it would appear as though I could've done a better job. The fact that Roddick is not the finished article on these shots is not the point, though. The point is that he is making a visible effort to change. Roddick is aware that he needs to change and adapt his game, or else he will not be in the world's top 10 for much longer.

It's refreshing to see someone try to change and develop their game, especially at Roddick's age when he could just as easily decide to play the way he always has done.

Here are two contrasting players in more than one respect. They both seem to have different views on the need to change your ways in order to succeed. Surely, if this continues, the end result has an air of inevitability about it.

"When we are no longer able to change the situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." — Viktor Frankl

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