2019 US Open: Flashback to 20 years of Roger Federer at Flushing Meadows
Roger Federer is a record five-time champion at the US Open along with Americans Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras. Except for his debut year (2000), Federer has been seeded every year at the last Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Federer's 85 wins at the US Open is the most in the tournament after Connors' tally of 98; 63 of those wins for the Swiss coming in straight sets. Federer has played 77 different opponents at the US Open and has never lost to an unseeded player at the tournament. Novak Djokovic (3) and Juan Martin Del Potro (2) are the only two players with multiple wins over Federer at the last Grand Slam event of the year.
Federer has won more US Open titles (5) than straight set defeats (4) at the US Open.
As the Swiss makes his record-equalling 18th seeded appearance (held jointly with Jimmy Connors) in his 20th year at the US Open next week, let us have a sneak peek at the two decades of Roger Federer at Flushing Meadows.
The early years (2000-2003)
After losing in the second qualifying round to compatriot Ivo Hueberger in 1999, a 19-year-old Roger Federer made his US Open debut in 2000.
In his first match at the Flushing Meadows, the then Swiss teenager trailed Peter Wessels by two sets and had to save a match-point in the fourth before triumphing in the fifth. Federer beat Canadian doubles specialist Daniel Nestor in the next round before being beaten by Spaniard Juan Carlos Fererro in the third round in a fourth-set tiebreak.
The next year, Federer climbed up the rankings and was on the cusp of the top ten by the time the US Open arrived. Seeded 13th at the 2001 US Open, Federer went one better than in his debut year, notching up successive straight-set wins over Lars Burgsmueller, Robby Ginepri and Sjeng Schalken before being stopped by American Andre Agassi in the fourth round.
In 2002, Federer was back in the fourth round following wins over Jiri Vanek, Michael Chang and Xavier Malisse before being thwarted by Max Mirnyi of Belarus.
Federer arrived as a Grand Slam champion (2003 Wimbledon) at the 2003 US Open and was seeded second behind American Andy Roddick. But for the third year in a row, Federer wouldn't get past the fourth round at the US Open as David Nalbandian beat the Swiss for the second time in a Grand Slam that year.
The dominant years (2004 - 2009)
Overtaking Andy Roddick as the new world No.1 following his second Grand Slam title at the 2004 Australian Open, Federer picked up a second consecutive title at Wimbledon. Further wins at Dubai, Hamburg, Halle, Gstaad and Toronto that season made Federer the title favourite at the 2004 US Open.
And Federer wouldn't disappoint. Wins over Albert Costa, Marcos Baghdatis and Fabrice Santoro and a walkover in the fourth round over Romanian Andrei Pavel carried the Swiss to his first US Open quarterfinal where he beat two-time champion Andre Agassi in a five-set thriller.
Federer beat Tim Henman in the semis to book a final with 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.
In one of the most lopsided US Open finals in the Open Era since Jimmy Connors beat Ken Rosewall in the 1974 final for the loss of just one game, Federer eked out a dominating 6-0 7-6(3) 6-0 win to land his first title at Flushing Meadows.
It was the first double bagel US Open final since Richard Sears beat Howard Taylor in the 1884 title match. With his maiden triumph in New York, Federer emulated Mats Wilander (1988) by winning three Grand Slam titles in the same season.
Federer returned in 2005 and had a successful title defence by beating American Andre Agassi in a four-set final. The next year Federer overcame another American, Roddick in the title clash to win a third straight US Open title, thereby emulating John McEnroe (1979-81) and Ivan Lendl (1985-87) as the only players in the Open Era to do so.
The world No.1 beat young Serbian and his future rival Novak Djokovic in the 2007 final to become the first player in the Open Era to win four successive US Open titles.
Federer was back in a fifth consecutive US Open final in 2008 where he faced first-time Grand Slam finalist Andy Murray. The Scot proved no match on the day as Federer strode to the finish line in straight sets to land his 5th consecutive title at Flushing Meadows.
Following his five straight titles at Wimbledon (2003-2007), Federer became the first player in the Open Era to win five consecutive titles at successive Grand Slam tournaments.
In the 2009 final against Del Potro, Federer came within two points of a record sixth (consecutive) title at the US Open but the young Argentinian slammed the door shut and denied the Swiss a shot at history.
The defeat ended Federer's staggering win streak of 40 matches at the last Grand Slam of the year - a run which started after a defeat to Argentinian David Nalbdandian in the 2003 fourth round ended at the hands of another Argentinian, Del Potro, in the 2009 final.
2010 and beyond
Following three straight wins over Novak Djokovic at the US Open in as many years, the duo met for a fourth consecutive year at the tournament in the 2010 semifinals. In a feisty five-set encounter, Federer arrived at two match points on the Djokovic serve in the tenth game of the decider only to be thwarted by his younger rival, as the Swiss failed to reach the title match at Flushing Meadows for the first time in seven years.
Federer and Djokovic met again in the last four of the US Open the next year. Federer took the first two sets only for the Serb to force a decider. In the fifth, Federer broke Djokovic to love in the eighth game and arrived at two match points on his serve at 5-3 40-15. Incredibly, Djokovic saved both match points and denied Federer from match point down for the second consecutive year at the US Open.
In 2012, Federer lost in the quarterfinals to Tomas Berdych in four sets, which ended the Swiss' run of eight consecutive semifinals at the US Open.
The following year, an out-of-sorts Federer suffered his earliest Flushing Meadows exit in ten years when he went down in straight sets to Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the fourth round. Robredo had never beaten the Swiss in 10 previous matches.
In 2014 Federer reached his ninth semifinal at the US Open where he lost in straight sets to eventual champion Marin Cilic.
Federer returned to his first US Open final in 6 years, in 2015, only to fall short in four sets against top seed Novak Djokovic. The defeat was Federer's third at the US Open in six meetings with the Serb.
An injured Federer pulled out of the 2016 edition of the tournament, which ended a run of 16 consecutive appearances.
In 2017, Federer needed to go five sets in his two opening rounds at Flushing Meadows for the first time, against Frances Tiafoe and Mikhail Youzhny respectively, before losing in the quarterfinals to Juan Martin Del Potro, which denied the Swiss a first meeting with his arch rival Nadal at the US Open.
Federer made his 18th appearance at the US Open in 2018, where he squandered multiple set points and break points against Aussie John Millman in a disappointing four-set defeat in the fourth round, to suffer his fifth fourth-round exit at the tournament.