Roger Federer the greatest ever? He would lose to McEnroe and Borg: Boris Becker | tennis | Hindustan Times
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Roger Federer the greatest ever? He would lose to McEnroe and Borg: Boris Becker

Six-time major winner Boris Becker questioned Roger Federer’s standing among some of the past greats, despite his remarkable trophy haul.

tennis Updated: Feb 12, 2018 12:30 IST
Sacha Pisani
Switzerland's Roger Federer holds the Australia Open trophy at Government House as he poses for pictures following his win in the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 29, 2018. Boris Becker not sure if Federer is the greatest tennis player ever.
Switzerland's Roger Federer holds the Australia Open trophy at Government House as he poses for pictures following his win in the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 29, 2018. Boris Becker not sure if Federer is the greatest tennis player ever.(AFP)

He is a 20-time Grand Slam champion but Boris Becker does not believe Roger Federer would be able to beat John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg in their prime.

Widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, Federer became the first man to win 20 slams following his five-set victory over Marin Cilic in last month’s Australian Open final.

The evergreen 36-year-old Swiss star, who can replace Rafael Nadal as world number one after accepting a wildcard into the Rotterdam Open, missed most of 2016 through injury but the veteran has enjoyed a renaissance – winning three of the last five majors.

However, six-time slam champion Boris Becker questioned Roger Federer’s standing among some of the past greats.

Roger Federer, now number 2 among players of the Open era, with the number of tournaments and the percentage of singles matches that he has won. (AFP)

“You have to say he is the most successful, but how can you decide for sure that he is the best ever,” Becker told Tennis365 when asked if Federer is the best player in the history of the game.

“Comparing generations is tough, especially in tennis, but he ticks many boxes as the greatest ever. He has 20 Grand Slams, the most ever. He has the most weeks at world number one, which is an impressive record.

RACQUET IMPACT

“However, would he have beaten McEnroe when he was at his very best in the 1984 Wimbledon final using a very different type of racquet to the one he has now? I doubt it.

“Would he have beaten Bjorn Borg at his very best when he was dominating at the French Open at Wimbledon? Again, I doubt it, but that is not to belittle Federer’s achievements for one moment.”

Profile and statistics on Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer, who has just won his sixth Australian Open title since 2004 and his 20th Grand Slam title overall. (AFP)

Pressed on the evolution of racquets and whether it makes it impossible to compare players from different eras, Becker added: “It makes it difficult, for sure. I started with a wooden racquet and you simply could not do some of the things guys like Federer and (Rafael) Nadal have done in recent years using that type of equipment. It would not have been possible. So they would have had to adapt their styles.

“I would love to see Federer and Nadal play a match with a wooden racquet and see how they get on. It was a very different sport when McEnroe and Borg did their thing, but clearly the guys winning the big tournaments now deserve to be respected.”

Roger Federer arrives for a press conference with the trophy after winning the Australian Open men's singles final against Croatia's Marin Cilic. (REUTERS)

‘FEDERER IS HERE TO STAY’

On Federer, Becker continued: “Who would have imagined he would still be the guy to beat when he was 36. He is still very much here and I still believe he will stay around for some time. He has set the bar so very high in his career and everyone looks for the minor crack in his make-up.

“I am amazed by his commitment to the game considering he has four kids, as that was one of the reasons I decided to quit my career.”