Peak Roger Federer was simultaneously the best defender and best aggressor, says Andy Roddick
- Andy Roddick spoke at length about Roger Federer's legendary 2006 season, where he went 92-5 for the year.
- Roddick said the Swiss reached his 'height' that year, and displayed a combination of skills rarely seen in tennis.
Retired American player Andy Roddick, who was one of the major competitors to Roger Federer during the 2000s, believes that the Swiss Maestro was the best in multiple departments during his incredible 2006 season.
2006 was a period of unparalleled dominance for Roger Federer, who had a win-loss ratio of 92-5 in the calendar year. Federer won three out of the four Grand Slams, and also made it to the final of Roland Garros (where he lost to Rafael Nadal in four sets).
The Swiss defeated Roddick in the 2006 US Open final, rallying from a set down to fashion a 6–2, 4–6, 7–5, 6–1 victory. Speaking to Tennis Channel about that match, Roddick reminisced how he was blown away the moment Federer got into his groove - despite the fact that the American was playing some good tennis himself.
"He served so well. He’s one of the best front-runners of all time,” Roddick said. “I was actually playing really well in the 2006 US Open final but all of a sudden after 15 minutes I was down a break and you just know he’s a downhill snowball."
Roddick added that that was the case with Federer the entire season. The Swiss was close to perfection in both offense and defense at that time, and no player on tour - Roddick included - had any answers.
"Just the way he was executing that whole season was pretty amazing," the 37-year-old said. "That was probably his height.
“I say this a lot. He was the best defender and aggressive player at the same time."
Roddick then proceeded to ask the other guests on the Tennis Channel show - Tracy Austin, Brett Haber and Jimmy Arias - to name anyone who could match Federer's combination of offense and defense. All four experts agreed that no other player came close.
In recent years Federer's movement has deteriorated a notch, which has led to him relying more on offense than defense to remain competitive. But at his peak the Swiss maestro was known for his all-round excellence, as pointed out by Roddick; in the 2000s, Federer used his foot-speed just as much as his high-risk early strikes to dominate his rivals.
That combination has rarely, if ever, been seen in tennis.
Roger Federer, Steffi Graf and the best individual tennis seasons of all time
The four analysts discussed Roger Federer and his 2006 performance in further detail during the conversation, and tried to rank the best tennis seasons of all time.
The panel unanimously placed Steffi Graf's record-breaking 1988 season at the top of the pile. The German player completed a Golden Calendar Slam that year, rewriting the record books by claiming all four Majors as well as the Olympic gold medal.
"Steffi was one of my favourite people to watch," Roddick said. "She is one of the coolest, most humble people. In a regular conversation, you would never know how great she was. She never talks about tennis. I think it would be tough to argue against the 1998 season."
Federer's 2006 did make it to the top 10 list, but below a few other legendary seasons from the 70s and 80s. Here is the full list as decided by the four experts:
- Steffi Graf – 1988
- Rod Laver – 1969
- Martina Navratilova – 1983
- Margaret Court – 1970
- Jimmy Connors – 1974
- John McEnroe – 1984
- Roger Federer – 2006
- Novak Djokovic – 2015
- Serena Williams – 2002
- Monica Seles – 1992
Roddick added that it was extremely difficult to rank and rate these performances comparatively, saying that they were all "greatness personified".
"It gets really tough to pick any of these apart," he said. "For a top 10 list, you'll be able to bring Roger Federer from '05 also, and not just one season from each player. A lot of players on this list did it more than a couple of times. It's just greatness personified."