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Federer in the 2000s vs Federer in the 2010s

Bhargav
Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Roger Federer has had a stellar 22-year professional career. Since a defeat to Argentinian lucky loser Lukas Arnold Ker in the 1998 Gstaad opening round, Federer has racked up a staggering tally of 1237 wins and 270 losses for a career win-loss record of 82.1%. That success rate is bettered by only 3 other players in the Open Era, 2 of whom happen to be his Big 3 peers - Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

In his fourth year on tour, Federer provided a glimpse of his potential when he dethroned 7-time champion Pete Sampras in an enthralling 5-set fourth round thriller at 2001 Wimbledon. But it would be two more years before the Swiss would arrive on the Grand Slam stage.

Federer beat Australian Mark Philippoussis in 2003 to become the 18th different Wimbledon champion in the Open Era. Barring a fourth round exit at the 2003 US Open (David Nalbandian), a third round loss at the 2004 French Open (Gustavo Kuerten), and a semifinal reverse defeat to Marat Safin after squandering match points in the semifinals of the 2005 Australian Open, Federer swept all other Grand Slam titles on offer to become the first player in the Open Era to win his first 7 Major finals.

Federer captures his first Grand Slam title at 2003 Wimbledon
Federer captures his first Grand Slam title at 2003 Wimbledon

A trio of French Open final reverses and a pair of five-set losses in the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals notwithstanding, the 2000s were a hugely successful decade for Federer. He captured 15 Grand Slam titles in that period, to go past Pete Sampras' record tally of 14.

The Swiss maestro occupied the No. 1 spot for a record 237 consecutive weeks between 2004 and 2008, winning a record 24 consecutive finals before being stopped by David Nalbandian at the 2005 ATP Finals.

Amidst a plethora of other records, Federer reeled off 5 consecutive titles at Wimbledon and the US open, winning the Wimbledon-US Open double in 4 consecutive years - feats likely to remain untouched for a very long time.

Federer in the 2010s was understandably less dominant at the big tournaments than he was in the 2000s. He captured 5 Grand Slam titles from 10 finals in that period to retain the all-time Grand Slam title lead by just one Slam.

In the 2010s, the Swiss maestro displayed an uncharacteristic propensity to lose against lesser ranked opponents he would have swatted away in his prime.

Among Federer's prominent achievements during his second full decade in the sport would be capturing a record 8th title at Wimbledon, becoming the first player at any tournament to record 100 wins (2019 Wimbledon), and becoming the first player to win 10 titles at a tournament on two different surfaces (Halle-grass, Basel-hard court). The Swiss maestro also joined Jimmy Connors as the only men to win 100 singles titles and record 1200 match wins.

Federer captures his 100th singles title at 2019 Dubai
Federer captures his 100th singles title at 2019 Dubai

In the following analysis, let us determine Federer's performance under five different parameters in the two full decades during which he has been on the tour.

#1 Win-loss

During the 2000s, Federer won 663 singles matches as compared to his haul of 559 wins in the next decade. The Swiss maestro's corresponding number of defeats during this period were 141 and 109 respectively.

While its logical that Federer of the 2000s went deep at more tournaments than the one in the 2010s, which explains the disparity in the two win tallies, what would perhaps come as a surprise is the number of losses during the two decades.

Had Federer continued his 2000s win-loss % in the 2010s as well, 559 wins in the 2010s should have yielded him 119 losses. But the Swiss endured fewer defeats during this period.

Federer's win-loss record in the 2010s (559-109, 0.836) is actually superior to his win-loss record during his dominating 2000s (663-559, 0.825).

This anomaly can be best explained by the fact that 83 of Federer's 141 losses during the 2000s came before he made his Grand Slam breakthrough at 2003 Wimbledon. After that, his win-loss record for the rest of the decade (including 2003 Wimbledon) was an impressive 477-68 (0.875).

Purely in terms of win-loss % during two decades, Federer of the 2010s wins this category.

WINNER: Federer of the 2010s

#2 Grand Slams

Federer lifts his 15th Grand Slam title at 2009 Wimbledon
Federer lifts his 15th Grand Slam title at 2009 Wimbledon

This category is overwhelmingly bossed by the Federer of the 2000s. Federer racked up an impressive haul of 15 Grand Slams during this period, enduring 5 final losses at the 2006-08 French Open, 2008 Wimbledon and 2009 Australian Open - all to Rafael Nadal - and the 2009 US Open to Juan Martin del Potro.

During the 2010s, Federer also lost 5 Grand Slam finals - 2011 French Open to Nadal, 2014-15, 2019 Wimbledon and 2015 US Open to Djokovic. But during this period, Federer racked up a considerably smaller haul of Grand Slam titles (5), one-third of what he had managed in the decade before.

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The Swiss maestro squandered match points in the 2010-11 US Open semifinals against Djokovic and 8 years later failed to convert multiple match points on serve before falling to the Serb in a historic first-ever deciding set Wimbledon fifth set tiebreak.

Federer's Grand Slam match-win record during the two decades (188-25, 88% in the 2000s and 169-35, 83% in the 2010s) remained above 80% during both periods. But the win-loss% in the 2010s suffered a slight dip compared to the one in the 2000s.

WINNER: Federer of the 2000s

#3 Other tournaments

Federer wins his 10th Basel title in 2019
Federer wins his 10th Basel title in 2019

In 2019, Federer won his 10th title at his hometown tournament in Basel. That followed his 10th title at Halle earlier in the season, and made the Swiss the first player to win 10 titles at a tournament on two different surfaces.

During the 2000s, Federer captured 61 titles from 85 finals (72%) which includes his first career title at 2001 Milan. The corresponding number from the 2010s decade is 42 titles from 72 finals (58%).

Not counting team tournaments like the Davis Cup and the Laver Cup, Federer entered 196 different tournaments during the 2000s, reaching the title match at 85 of them (43% of tournaments entered). The corresponding numbers for the next decade are 148 tournaments entered and 72 finals reached (48%).

But purely on account of more titles won during the 2000s decade and a superior win% in finals than the corresponding numbers in the next decade, Federer of the 2000s is a clear winner in this category.

WINNER: Federer of the 2000s

#4 Record against top 10 opposition

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Federer (224) has the most top 10 wins in the history of men's tennis. During the 2000s, Federer racked up 118 top 10 wins and endured 53 losses for a 69% win-loss record against top 10 opposition.

During the 2010s, Federer had 106 top 10 wins and 64 losses against the elite group for a win-loss % of 62%.

Winner: Federer of the 2000s

#5 Match points saved in wins vs Match points squandered in losses

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

During his career, Federer has squandered match points in 22 matches en route to losses - most notably in the 2010-11 US Open semifinals and the 2019 Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic. On the other hand, he has saved match points in 20 matches en route to wins.

In the 2000s, the numbers were 7 match points squandered in losses and 11 match points saved in wins. The corresponding numbers in the 2010s were 15 match points squandered and 9 match points saved in losses and wins respectively.

WINNER: Federer of the 2000s

Conclusion

Federer of the 2000s was undoubtedly the stronger and more ruthless performer than the one in the 2010s, as evidenced by the superior numbers in all categories bar one. However, Federer of the 2010s wasn't as much of a laggard as may be incorrectly assumed at first glance without delving deeper into the numbers.

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Edited by Musab Abid
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