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How the realization Federer is human boosted his appeal

Federer's historic career earned him plenty of respect in his native Switzerland, but it took this year's tumultuous summer for them to truly appreciate him. He returns to play his hometown event in Basel this week not just as a tennis champion, but a national hero.

Updated: August 6, 2009, 5:26 PM ET
By Kamakshi Tandon | Special to ESPN.com

Imagine being perhaps the greatest player of all time and being more embraced through defeat than victory.

Strange but true -- more of Roger Federer's compatriots watched him lose his Wimbledon crown to Rafael Nadal this year than saw him win his first and fifth Wimbledon titles put together.

Swiss TV ratings for the summer's epic five-set final were 1.12 million -- nearly 15 percent of the country, or the equivalent of about 44 million viewers in the United States. ...

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