Choice picks from the Nirmal Shekar files

What made Nirmal Shekar, who was an active sports journalist from May 1980 (the time he joined The Hindu) to the day he died on February 1, 2017, the writer he was and the scribe the world admired? The answer lies in the way he approached his job. Report he did, mostly tennis matches, but didn't stop with that. He padded his story in multifarious ways, bringing in apt titbits. The secret of his success lay in the interweaving of such facts into a seamless, sublime narrative. And in an era of staid reporting, the Nirmal way came like a breath of fresh air and a legend was born!

In a tribute to Nirmal, we present a few of the articles he had written over the years for Sportstar.

1. >Nirmal first covered the Wimbledon Championships in London, in 1986 . Here is the feature on the tournament where Boris Becker and Martina Navratilova retained their men's and women's singles titles respectively .

2. Sampras and Agassi, as they have done in many aspects of their games, their personalities and their careers, present a fascinating contrast when it comes to success in the twilight phase. >A tale of two legends, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi .

3. >No man might have ever played tennis the way Roger Federer does. The Swiss master constantly stretches the limits of the possible, exploring new vistas in his own luminous soul. His great matches are not athletic contests; they are timeless compositions.

4. Men's tennis is two sports, really: there is the year-round circuit comprising the Slams and the ATP events, then there is the Davis Cup. Tennis is merely a game on the circuit. >The Davis Cup is an institution .

5. 24/7 sports channels and hundreds of sports, celebrity and gossip magazines and newspaper columns feast on every little sneeze or smile that hot sportspersons, not necessarily great ones, would care to offer them in public. So we have >Beckham and Kournikova: Celebs like no other .

6. Sports fans are unlikely to get to see anyone quite like Andre Agassi anytime soon. Perhaps they never will. >A tribute to Andre Agassi after his retirement .

7. For all our unabashedly gleeful attempts to readily stereotype him as a flesh-and-blood marvel of German engineering, there is more to the >most successful driver in Formula One history, Michael Schumacher , than even his biographers might be aware of.

8. The >Steve Waugh persona has outgrown sport , rising well above its defined limits. This is why the Australian Test captain is a heroic Outsider in the context of modern cricket.

9. Playing at 100 per cent on the biggest day is an art. The Aussies have mastered it. But Ganguly's men, for all their virtues, still haven't done that... >India and the art of peaking .

10. Right through the tournament, in the matches leading up to the final, it was the Yugoslav attack that seemed more creative and spectacular although the team's defence, if not mediocre, was much less solid compared to the Soviets'. >Coverage of the Jawaharlal Nehru Gold Cup football tournament in 1985.