Firstly, I would like to point out that I am a Federer fanatic, and am hugely biased towards him in all respects. Then again, what I will write in this article is the truth, so any person who can objectively read this will have to agree with me.
Roger Federer is a man who needs no introduction. He is the greatest tennis player of all time (Rod Laver makes a very good case as well, but I haven’t seen him play). A true superstar, he is a magician who wields his wand in the form of a racquet and can do things on the court that many people consider impossible. In a match against James Blake, one commentator went to say, “Oh, come on, that shot should be banned from tennis!”
Roger Federer has so many records to his name, there is a lengthy Wikipedia page dedicated to it, which speaks volumes. Here are the five records of Federer, that I think will stand the test of time, at least for three decades -
5. 297 (and counting) Weeks at ATP World No. 1 Ranking
The fact that I placed this record at number 5 shows how good his achievements have been. As of 24th September, 2012, Federer had been ranked World No. 1 for 297 weeks, which amounts to a whopping 5 years and 37 weeks. What is even more mind-boggling about this record is that it was made in only three separate periods – he lost his World No. 1 ranking only thrice. By comparison, Pete Sampras, the next on the record list with 286 weeks did it in eleven separate periods – meaning he lost his World No. 1 ranking eleven times.
Even though this record would require multiple Novak-Djokovic-2011 years in succession from one player to surpass, there is a slight chance that over time, this may be broken by a slither. However, for me, this is unsurpassable.
4. 34 (and counting) Consecutive Quarterfinals in a Row in Grand Slams
After he reached the quarter final in the 2012 Australian Open, Jim Courier interviewed Roger on-court and said,
This record just highlights Federer’s consistency and his ability to schedule such that he remains injury-free. This is an ongoing record built over eight years now (2004 Wimbledon – 2012 US Open) and once again, will not be surpassed.
The top three on this list are records I am absolutely 100% sure will not be surpassed; I am willing to bet my house on them.
3. 23 Grand Slam Singles Semifinals in a Row in Grand Slams
This record is even better than both of the previous records because of what effort it took Roger to build this record. To enter into the semifinal of a Grand Slam, you have to win five consecutive matches, which is a good result for almost anybody. To enter 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals, you have to win five consecutive matches at each of the four Grand Slams continuously for a period of five years and nine months. Enough said, this record will not be surpassed by anyone in the near future.
2. 237 consecutive Weeks at ATP World No. 1 Ranking
Federer was without peer from 2004-2007, when he won everything and lost almost nothing. That highlighted his years at the top – when he was so far ahead of the field, he was assured the year-end World No. 1 ranking even before the US Open had started! His yearly statistics say it all – 74-6 (2004), 81-4 (2005), 92-5 (2006) and 68-9 (2007).
In 2004, 2006 and 2007, Federer won three out of four Grand Slams held that year and was in the final of Roland Garros in both 2006 and 2007. This led him amass so many points at the head of the Rankings that it took a superhuman year from Rafael Nadal to push him off the top perch in 2008.
You don’t even need to research a lot of tennis to know this record won’t be surpassed. The next best record on the consecutive Weeks at No. 1 list is by Jimmy Connors, for a mere 160 weeks. Even on the women’s side, the best record on this list is only 178 weeks, by Steffi Graf. With the competitiveness quotient in men’s tennis on the definitive rise, this record will stand the test of time.
1. 40 Matches Won in a Row at both Wimbledon and the US Open
If there was even a slither of doubt about the other records, there will be none whatsoever regarding this. Federer is the only male tennis player in history to have won two Grand Slam events for five years consecutively. This record bears special meaning – it means he dominated both the grass and the hard court slams for five straight years.
In an article entitled “Top Five Factors: The Unbelievable, Unbreakable Records ” on the US Open’s official website www.usopen.org, this record was ranked Number 1, ahead of Martina Navratilova‘s killer 1987 US Open in which she won the complete set – Singles, Doubles, Mixed Doubles. That for me, says it all.
Records that just missed the cut -
8. Never retired from a match in 973 matches
This does not have anything to do with on-court skill, but is very impressive all the same. Federer has never retired from a tennis match in 973 matches played, which is a record for the ATP. In the words of the Maestro himself (when asked whether players should retire from matches),
“I’d say 50% of them [retiring players] aren’t lucky because not feeling well or getting injured or carrying in an injury, Depends where that player comes from. Maybe did they overplay a little bit? Has he been playing too long with an injury already? I mean, comes out in best of five set tennis. Can’t hide it, in my opinion. Could some guys finish the matches? I’m sure, but they didn’t decide to. For me it is shocking to see so many retirements. For me it doesn’t matter how bad I’m feeling, I will be out there and giving it a try, because you never know what’s gonna happen.”
While this record is remarkable and will definitely stand the test of time, it has less to do with tennis than simple willpower and strength of mind, and hence misses the cut.
7. 24 Grand Slam Finals
Most people would love to be in one Grand Slam final. Federer’s been in 24 of them, and won 17. This record, remarkable as it is, might be surpassed simply because I think that his 17 Grand Slams record will be surpassed in the future. If that record is to be surpassed, the superhuman player will have to lose a few.
6. 17 Grand Slams
The obvious record that everyone highlights in Federer’s career is his unprecedented 17 Grand Slam titles. Even though this is a record that smashes all known bounds of tennis and separates Federer from his peers, it has a slightly good chance of being surpassed.
Records will be broken and records will be made, but what defines Roger Federer is not only his on-court single-handed dominance of the sport, but his humility and how he remains grounded even after having won over 70 million dollars in prize money (also a record).
He is the champion and he will be remembered by all as the most elegant and simply the best player of all time.