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Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player of all time

With his legendary fitness, longevity and popularity the Swiss maestro has come to be identified as the new gold standard of tennis

editorials Updated: Jul 17, 2017 17:18 IST
Roger Federer,Wimbledon,Ivan Lendl
Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates winning the final against Croatia’s Marin Cilic (REUTERS)

With his eighth Wimbledon title on Sunday, Roger Federer has 19 Grand Slam victories under his belt, the most by any player in tennis history. World No.2 Rafael Nadal, with whom Federer has enjoyed a legendary rivalry, has won 15 titles including 10 French Open victories. At Wimbledon, he stands tall – one title more than Pete Sampras and William Renshaw (who’ve won seven each). But Federer isn’t what Ivan Lendl would’ve called a one-trick pony (‘Grass is for cows,’ Lendl once famously said ). Federer’s feat of reaching 29 Grand Slam finals bears testimony to this. He is also the only one to win three different grand slams at least five times. The sheer weight of career statistics is good enough for Federer to live up to what Boris Becker, the youngest ever Wimbledon champion calls him — the Greatest of All Time (GOAT).

But there’s more to back Becker’s claim than just records. Think longevity. At a time when younger athletes ranked higher than him by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) are breaking down mid-tournament, the 35-year-old Federer won Wimbledon without dropping a set or displaying any sign of wear and tear. In 2003, when Federer won his first Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic was a gawky teenager, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was India’s prime minister, the Concorde was about to make its last commercial flight and Saddam Hussein was in hiding.

Since 1973, when the ATP first began compiling rankings, Federer’s 302-week reign as world number one is the longest ever. Many a sports writer has raved about the thing of beauty that Federer’s backhand is. But when Ken Rosewall, the oldest player to win a Slam in the Open Era, says he won’t be sorry to see his record go to someone like Federer and “I’d like to be compared to Roger,” you know it isn’t just another backhanded compliment. Federer is the new gold standard of tennis.

First Published: Jul 17, 2017 14:24 IST