Roger Federer: 8 Tennis Records Beyond His Reach
Roger Federer possesses many, many ATP records.
Because he is the man many consider the GOAT (greatest of all time), that fact should surprise no one who has been following tennis since Federer began his assault on the record books.
Turning pro in 1998, Federer announced his arrival at the top of the men's game in February of 2004, when he captured the No. 1 ranking for the first time.
From 2004 through 2007 Federer dominated, often winning three Grand Slams in a season. He held the No. 1 ranking a record 237 consecutive weeks.
But after winning Slam No. 16 at the Australian Open in 2010, Federer's pace slowed considerably.
Of late, however, Federer has once again been advancing upon long-held tennis records—those many believed safely chiseled in stone for the ages.
Federer has lost only two matches in 2012—to Rafael Nadal in the 2012 Australian Open semifinals and to John Isner in a five-set Davis Cup match in Switzerland. The world No. 3 stands at 22-2, entering this week's Sony Ericsson Open having just won his last three tournaments: Rotterdam, Dubai and most recently Indian Wells.
But no one individual can own all tennis records, right?
The following are eight tennis milestones that may be beyond the Maestro’s reach. Or are they?
Number of Titles Won in the Open Era
Ensconced ahead of Federer for the record for the Most Titles Won in the Open Era are three tennis giants.
Federer, who remains active and able to add to his totals, has his work cut out for him if he hopes to end his career as No. 1 in this category.
By the end of 2011, Federer had won 70 titles since his first triumph in 2001. On average, the Swiss wins over six ATP titles a season.
At age 30, however, and leaning toward the end of his career, winning six trophies a year might be a stretch—although you never count Federer out of any challenge.
Who is Federer chasing?
Currently, American Jimmy Connors leads this category with 109 titles won throughout a career that extended over 20 years, beginning in 1972 and running through 1992, when “Jimbo” was 41 years of age.
Following Connors is Ivan Lendl, the current Andy Murray coach, who won 94 titles during his equally impressive career. Hailing from Czechoslovakia, Lendl turned pro in 1978. Dominating during the mid to late 1980s, Lendl retired with a bad back in 1994 at age 34.
Blazing brighter, perhaps—but with a shorter life span on court—was American John McEnroe, who amassed a total of 77 titles during his career. Also turning pro in 1978, McEnroe peaked in 1984 in terms of winning major titles, finally retiring from singles competition in 1992 at age 33.
Federer has won 73 titles to date after winning at Indian Wells. He trails Connors by 36 titles and Lendl by 21. That means Federer would have to play at his current level for another seven years to pass Connors and four to pass Lendl.
The Swiss could surpass McEnroe with another four titles, and he may well accomplish that in 2012 or early 2013—which would move Federer up to the No. 3 spot.
The next active player on the list is Rafael Nadal, with 46 titles, in the No. 11 spot.
Federer has a chance to reach and surpass Connors, but it seems unlikely at this juncture.
Number of Match Wins in the Open Era
To date, Federer has won 829 matches. Currently the world No. 3 ranks sixth on the list of the all-time record holders of Match Wins in the Open Era.
The honor of being No. 1 again goes to James Scott Connors (Jimmy), who won 1,222 matches during his long career.
Also ahead of Federer on this list is No. 2 Ivan Lendl, who won 1,070 matches on his watch—followed by Guillermo Vilas, who notched 920 wins.
Andre Agassi, who played until he was 35 years of age, is next with 870 matches—which certainly seems reachable by Federer.
Just ahead of Federer is John McEnroe, who won 867 singles matches during his career.
There is no other active player who has won over 600 matches, although Nadal is nearing that mark with 554 match wins to date.
On average, Federer wins about 73-74 matches a year. That means the Swiss could pass McEnroe, Agassi and probably even Vilas, assuming the Swiss maintains his current physical status.
Reaching Lendl and Connors, however, will not likely happen because of Federer’s abbreviated schedule and the inevitable slowing as he ages.
It would take Federer over five years at his current pace to reach and surpass Connors and nearly four years to surpass Lendl. This is predicated, of course, on the notion that Federer continues to win and be ranked in the top 10.
It would be a huge accomplishment, but it's probably out of reach.
Longest Open Era Match Winning Streak
The longest winning streak—this was the record Novak Djokovic pursued in 2011.
Early on, the man Djokovic hoped to surpass was John McEnroe, who topped the show in 1984, compiling a 42-match win streak before losing in the finals of the French Open to Ivan Lendl.
Taking it one step further, Djokovic won 43 matches in 2011 before losing in the French Open semifinals to Roger Federer.
In the process the Serb passed McEnroe and Federer, who had a 41-match winning streak.
But Djokovic could not reach and pass No. 2 on the list, Ivan Lendl, with 44, or No. 1, Guillermo Villas, who won 46 straight in 1977.
This is the most unpredictable of records because once you lose, you start over again.
Federer remains in the top 10 in this category with match winning streaks of 35 in 2005 and 41 in 2006-07. The latter keeps the Swiss at No. 5 on the list, while the 35 has him tied for No. 7 with Bjorn Borg and Thomas Muster.
Rafael Nadal recorded his high in 2008, winning 32 consecutive matches.
Federer currently rides a 15-match win streak coming into Miami. How much further can he go? That is the question. But not many would give the Maestro the nod to surpass Vilas in this category.
Number of Consecutive Grand Slam Tournament Appearances
Roger Federer holds many records that are products of his participation in Grand Slam tournaments.
He captured the biggest one—winning the most major singles titles. Federer's win at the 2010 Australian Open gave him his 16th Slam championship.
But Federer has not seized them all.
For example, Federer trails South African Wayne Ferreira, who leads everyone by having appeared in 56 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.
Stefan Edberg remains in second place with 54.
Federer currently has appeared in 49 consecutive Slam tournaments up to and including the 2012 Australian Open.
This is one record, however, that is a good bet for Federer to top by the end of 2014, when he should reach Slam appearance No. 60.
At least this one seems safely in the bag for Federer at the moment.
Best Single-Season Match Winning Percentage
Roger Federer came within a whisper of equaling John McEnroe’s amazing 1984 record for the best season-long winning percentage.
Federer's loss in the final of the 2005 year-end championship to David Nalbandian forever doomed the great Swiss to remain No. 3 on this list.
The chances of the Swiss repeating any of his top 10 performances on this list seem quite remote—although Federer is off to a great start in 2012 with a 22-2 mark.
The Top 10*
1. John McEnroe 1984 (Record 82-3) 96.5 percent
2. Jimmy Connors 1973 (Record 89-4) 95.7 percent
3. Roger Federer 2005 (Record 81-4) 95.3 percent
4. Roger Federer 2006 (Record 92.5) 94.8 percent
5. Jimmy Connors 1974 (Record 95-6) 94.1 percent
6. Ivan Lendl 1985 (Record 80-6) 93 percent
7. Bjorn Borg 1979 (Record 76-6) 92.7 percent
8. Roger Federer 2004 (Record 74-6) 92.5 percent
9. Ivan Lendl 1982 (Record 106-9) 92.2 percent
10. Bjorn Borg 1977 (Record 76-8) 90.6 percent
*There is some discrepancy in the numbers reported by http://www.strategictennis.com and those reported by the ATP and Wikipedia. These reported wins and losses for Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Bjorn Borg differ because the ATP did not recognize some World Team Tennis results as well as some other smaller tournaments.
Number of Tennis Masters Series Titles Won
Although most granted Rafael Nadal the record for the most ATP Masters Series wins at 19 (which Roger Federer just tied after his win at Indian Wells), the fact is that Masters-level tennis existed long before the ATP organized and led tour events starting in 1990.
From 1970 through 1989 the Grand Prix and World Championships were the most prestigious tournaments after the Grand Slams and the World Tour finals. These eventually became the Masters Series tournaments as we know them today.
So, in order for Federer to stand alone atop this record he must pass the leader, Ivan Lendl, who won 22 Masters-level events.
The Top 10
1. Ivan Lendl (22)
2. John McEnroe (19)
3. Rafael Nadal (19)
4. Roger Federer (19)
5. Jimmy Connors (18)
6. Andre Agassi (17)
7. Bjorn Borg (15)
8. Boris Becker (13)
9. Pete Sampras (11)
10. Novak Djokovic (10)
Most Aces Scored in a Match
Of course, the Wimbledon first-round match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in 2010 obliterated any other record in this category because Isner blasted 113 aces while Mahut spun in 103 of his own in that historic match. They stand as No. 1 and No. 2 on this list.
Prior to that Wimbledon encounter, however, the man who owned the ace category is the long, lean Croat Ivo Karlovic, who occupies spots 3, 4, 6 and 10 in the top-10 listing for this record.
In a 2009 Davis Cup semifinal match with Radek Stepanek, the Croat amassed 78 aces in that five-set encounter. He still lost the match.
Against Lleyton Hewitt at 2009 French Open—extending the Aussie to five sets—Karlovic aced Hewitt 55 times but still could not come away a winner in that match.
Then in the first round of Wimbledon in 2005, Karlovic’s serve awarded him 51 aces against David Bracciali. Again, though, Karlovic came away a loser.
But Roger Federer strangely enough aced Andy Roddick 50 times in their Wimbledon final of 2009, which Federer won in five tough sets.
While most do not think of the Federer serve as his primary stroke, his serve is probably one of the most effective of the modern era. This is not due as much to speed as it is to pinpoint accuracy and placement.
Federer will never be No. 1 in this category, but he stands solidly as No. 7 on this list.
Most Total Weeks Ranked as No. 1
How cruel that Roger Federer falls short by one week of matching American Pete Sampras with 286 total weeks at No. 1.
Federer arrived at 285 weeks of holding the top spot before losing the 2010 French Open quarterfinals to Robin Soderling—one week short of tying Sampras.
The problem is that Federer, now at age 30, must surpass both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, seeded No. 2 and No. 1 respectively, to reach the No. 1 ranking again. That is a fairly tall order.
The Top 10
1. Pete Sampras: 286 weeks
2. Roger Federer: 285 weeks
3. Ivan Lendl: 270 weeks
4. Jimmy Connors: 268 weeks
5. John McEnroe: 170 weeks
6. Bjorn Borg: 109 weeks
7. Rafael Nadal: 102 weeks
8. Andre Agassi: 101 weeks
9. Lleyton Hewitt: 80 weeks
10. Stefan Edberg: 72 weeks
Although Federer insists it is his ambition to climb back to the No. 1 ranking, the chances of it happening are fairly rare. This one could be out of reach—or is it?