Ageless Roger Federer’s 8th Wimbledon Crown by the Numbers

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Eight Wimbledon titles is more than any other men’s tennis player who’s ever stepped onto the hallowed grounds at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. I can still remember in the summer of 2001, watching a young kid from Switzerland with a ponytail stepping on to Centre Court to face off against 4-time defending champion Pete Sampras in the 4th round. And I can still remember being stunned when the kid upended Sampras, much to my dismay. Now here he is 14 years later, no longer a kid — no longer a ponytail, either — breaking Sampras’s record of 7 Wimbledon championships.

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In all 8 of his victorious fortnights in London since 2003, this one is the first that Federer won without dropping a set. The last man to do that? Bjorn Borg — in 1976.

Think about that just for a second. He’s been spectacular in all 8 championship runs, dominated the field, cruised to titles as the #1 ranked player in the world — and it wasn’t until he was 35 years old (practically 36) that he went the distance without giving up a set the entire tournament.

19 (and 2)

Entering 2017, who would have thought Federer could win another grand slam title after taking 6 months off after Wimbledon last summer? Not many, including Federer himself. But TWO?? Winning in Australia against arch-rival Rafael Nadal would have been enough to classify Roger as the best ever in most experts’ minds, and it was certainly enough to make the 2017 season a successful one for the Swiss Wizard. After the flawless run at the All England Club, Federer now has, a record, 19 grand slams titles to his name.

14

It’s been fourteen years since Federer first hoisted the Wimbledon trophy as champion. Many tennis careers don’t make it fourteen years, period. Federer’s longevity is something to be marveled at. In all the years he spent completely demolishing the competition and making quick work of all his “wannabe rivals”, Federer may be playing his best tennis right now.

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The world number 1 ranking is within reach for Federer, but it doesn’t seem to be something he’s putting much emphasis on right now. If you listen to his comments with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi after Sunday’s final, Federer wasn’t dismissive of the ranking so much as he was honest about where his head is at this stage in his career. He’s less than a month from turning 36; he’s got 2 grand slams under his belt this year; he’s won 19 slams; and he understands the importance of being rested and healthy. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see Federer take off quite a bit of time over the next month and then again in the fall after the U.S. Open — which I wouldn’t bet my house on him playing in by the way.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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Federer’s Brilliance on Full Display ‘Down Under’

It’s been 4 and a half years  since Roger Federer — tennis’s greatest player of all time — last hoisted a Grand Slam trophy. Injuries, new young and up-and-coming talent, and Father Time have all had a hand in keeping Fed winless in the sports most glamorous events. After securing a record 17 Grand Slam championships at Wimbledon in 2012, Federer has gone 0-3 in Grand Slam finals since. He easily could have 20 by now — heck, in 2012 no one had any right to believe Roger couldn’t win multiple slams each year for as many more years as he wished to play. That was naive, of course. That’s part of the beauty of being so great. When you’re on the top of the mountain, it’s impossible to imagine them not being there. Implausible to believe time would catch up to them, that others could overtake them, that the greats always fade away. Then, in the blink of an eye, that’s exactly what happened.

Over the last few seasons, Roger Federer seemed to be as mortal as any other player to pick up a tennis racquet. Sort of.  Well, maybe that’s slightly unfair, but when comparing Federer to, well, Federer, he was greatly underachieving. The 2013 campaign saw the living legend win only one tournament, no Grand Slams, and slip in the world rankings down to 6. And while the 2014 and ’15  seasons went much better — multiple runner-up finishes at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, Federer still couldn’t add to his 17 major championships.

Then came last year.

As difficult as it was to imagine his descent in 2012, it was equally difficult to envision him winning another Slam after the tumultuous 2016 season he endured, which saw him pack up and disappear from sight in the middle of the summer. Knee surgery early in the year left the Swiss Wizard hobbled and without confidence on the court.

So when seedings were released for the Australian Open, it may have been hard to swallow, seeing Fed on the 17th line, but it wasn’t surprising — maybe the biggest surprise was that he was even playing tennis still, not where he was seeded.

But now, here we are, the weekend of the Australian Open final and look who’s preparing to play in his 28th Grand Slam championship match — another one of his many records. Yep, you guessed it.

Federer’s run in Melbourne has been magical and few could honestly say they predicted this. The man’s 35 years old — practically AARP-age in the tennis world; he’s a year removed from knee surgery; he hadn’t played competitive tennis in basically six months; and he had a tough road to hoe just to make it to the quarterfinals — playing and beating three top-10 players en route to Sunday’s finale.

When he takes Rod Laver Court on Sunday in search of an 18th Grand Slam title and a fifth Aussie Open championship, Federer will become the oldest man to reach a Slam final since 1974. Just add it to the resume of amazing feats that he continues to accomplish.

And if you thought the story couldn’t be written any better, Federer will need to beat longtime on-court nemesis and owner of 14 Grand Slam titles himself, Rafael Nadal, to complete the storybook ending. The calendar may say 2017, but looking at the Australian Open this weekend, it sure feels like 2005.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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