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Roger Federer: Ranking All 16 of His Grand Slam Finals Victories (Part 1 of 2)

Jeremy EcksteinFeatured Columnist IVDecember 20, 2016

Roger Federer: Ranking All 16 of His Grand Slam Finals Victories (Part 1 of 2)

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    Roger Federer's illustrious career continues to fascinate tennis fans and loyal supporters. For all of the accomplishments by rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Federer is still the standard tennis will use to measure past and future greatness.

    This slideshow is a tribute to each of his 16 Grand Slam finals wins, highlighting the most important moment for each match.

    It will also grade each Slam win by how memorable it will be to future generations. Which matches will best be remembered 20 years from now? Why?

    The grades will not be determined simply by the quality of the match but will also include the quality and appeal of the opponent, milestones and transitional moments. Federer brings so much star power to each match that none of them will receive a grade below a "C."

    Since this is a subjective list, readers are invited to contribute their own memories or arguments for what made each of these matches so memorable.

    Note: This is part one of two slideshows that chronologically travel through each of Federer's Grand Slam wins. The last slide of part two, will list the Slams by their assigned grade

    CLICK HERE if you would like to read Part 2

1. 2003 Wimbledon: Mark Philippoussis 7–6, 6–2, 7–6

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    Federer was deadlocked 4-4 in the first-set tiebreaker against hard-serving Mark Philippoussis. Then, Philippoussis missed a forehand down the line and followed it up with a double-fault.

    Federer closed out the set two points later and went on to roll through the match with his brilliant assortment of shots—still a new commodity to most of the tennis world. A legend was born.

     

    Twenty Years from Now: B-

    We will never know what would have happened had Federer lost the first set, but it did establish Federer as a great front-runner who would also go on to win his first seven Grand Slam finals.

    It is the genesis of Federer's Slams, but the opponent and match itself would receive a lower grade were it not the first one. For most tennis observers it's more of a trivia question, not a classic.

2. 2004 Australian Open: Marat Safin 7–6, 6–4, 6–2

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    The rock music at a nearby park made more noise than Marat Safin in trying to halt Federer's brilliant play.

    Not that Safin didn't put up a fight. He yelled, swung his arms and eventually smashed his racket.

    Afterwards, Safin, as reported through the AP via USAToday.com, said, "Against Roger, you have to do better than that. I'm not playing a yo-yo. He knows how to play tennis."

     

    Twenty Years from Now: C+

    Federer certainly wasn't pushed, so the massacre will be more delightful to the Federer fan. It was noteworthy for helping him achieve his No. 1 ranking for the first time.

    In addition, it bookended the 2004 season in which Federer would ultimately destroy the fragmented ruling of Safin and Lleyton Hewitt—Safin had one more burst in 2005, defeating Federer and winning his own Aussie title.

3. 2004 Wimbledon: Andy Roddick 4–6, 7–5, 7–6, 6–4

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    Federer had to fight back against Andy Roddick, who won an excellent first set.

    The key moment was a second rain delay that allowed Federer to gather himself. Roddick was up a break in the third set behind a fearless forehand.

    Federer broke back and won the third-set tiebreaker before closing Roddick out.

    The stats were remarkably close: Federer was 55-28 with winners/unforced errors and capitalized on 5/10 break-points while Roddick was 51-32 with winners/unforced errors but converted only 4/14 break-points.

    "I threw the kitchen sink at him but he went to the bathroom and got his tub," Roddick quipped after the match, reported by Piers Newbery of the BBC.


    Twenty Years from Now: A-

    Heading into the match, Roddick, who had been ranked No. 1 in January, was trying to tie Federer with two Grand Slams apiece. At that point, it looked like a budding rivalry that could dominate the decade.

    It would be one of two real opportunities to defeat Federer at the Grand stage, and there was a feeling of real competitiveness and possibility for both players.

4. 2004 U.S. Open: Lleyton Hewitt 6–0, 7–6, 6–0

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    If there were any doubts about the No. 1 player, they were wiped away in one of the most dominate massacres in Grand Slam history.

    Lleyton Hewitt, winner of two Grand Slams and fighting to rival the upstart Federer, was given a bagel after only seventeen minutes. (A bagel is the tennis term for winning a set 6-0. The zero looks like a bagel.) Federer only lost five total points in the set!

    After Federer took the second set 7-6, he handed a second bagel to the feisty but feckless Hewitt.

    Even the Australian Associated press (reported in World Tennis Magazine), embarrassed by their top player's performance, called it "the greatest humiliation in the history of Grand Slam finals."

     

    Twenty Years from Now: B

    This was the spiritual end of Lleyton Hewitt, who along with Marat Safin, would appear in their last final four months later.

    It was as if one of history's great leaders had come along at a time of chaos to vanquish and put order to warring tribes.


5. 2005 Wimbledon: Andy Roddick 6–2, 7–6, 6–4

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    After a tough start to 2005 with a pair of semifinal losses in his first two Grand Slams, there would be no stopping Federer on faster surfaces. Just ask Andy Roddick.

    Federer put on another astonishing first set of brilliance with 15 winners and only one unforced error. Even Federer would tell BBC Sport (via Caroline Cheese) after the match, "It's a pity for Andy but I really did play my best."

     

    Twenty Years From Now: C+

    It was becoming more routine to watch Federer dismantle his opponents, and now Andy Roddick had clearly become just another pretender to King Federer's reign.

6. 2005 U.S. Open: Andre Agassi 6–3, 2–6, 7–6, 6–1

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    When Andre Agassi screamed a cross-court forehand for the important break to go up 2-0 in the second set, it ignited New York pandemonium.

    It was a kind of passionate craziness comparable to World Cup soccer that would not subside until Federer finally broke away in the fourth.

    Though it was another brilliant display from the Swiss Maestro, it was also one of the lasting memories of the 35-year-old Agassi. He had suffered through recent back pain but gave a spirited display of fight and savvy groundstrokes.

    Agassi praised Federer. "There's a sense of urgency on every point, on every shot. It's an incredible challenge," he said through the AP via USAToday.com.

     

    Twenty Years From Now: A

    Memories of good matches can become great when both players are legends. It was the ending of one era and the peak of another. It will be the match that Federer and Agassi supporters remember most about their crossing paths, though their quarterfinal match a year earlier was closer.

7. 2006 Australian Open: Marcos Baghdatis 5–7, 7–5, 6–0, 6–2

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    It was shocking to watch Federer trail one set and a break to unseeded Marcos Baghdatis, but it still felt as if it were just a matter of time before Federer righted his game and took control of the match.

    After he squared up the match at a set apiece, Federer delivered a bagel in the third set and a 6-2 fourth set to ice the match.

    Federer was not sharp, spitting out 48 unforced errors, and Baghdatis was tired, cramping and emotionally defeated by the fourth set.

     

    Twenty Years From Now: C

    There was a little early drama, but it was a fairly forgettable match for most of the tennis world.

    Baghdatis lost a more memorable match at the 2006 U.S. Open, cramping up again in a second-round loss to Andre Agassi in his swan song.

8. 2006 Wimbledon: Rafael Nadal 6–0, 7–6, 6–7, 6–3

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    It was perhaps the most brutal contrast in the history of Wimbledon attire (to write "fashion" would be a misnomer).

    Federer wore his cream-colored blazer to center court, and Nadal's sleeveless playing top didn't look quite right, as if he were ready for a workout.

    The key to the match was Nadal's inability to hold serve at 5-4 in the second set. He also squandered a 3-1 tiebreaker advantage.

    In the end, Federer's total game on the quicker surface was just better. Their winners and unforced errors were about even (Federer 43-32, Nadal 42-26), but Federer won the important points.

     

    Twenty Years From Now: B+

    Federer-Nadal is usually a match to savor, regardless of the scores or conditions. This was a match that seemed to underscore Wimbledon's now slower surface, allowing Nadal to stay with Federer.

    But the match was a foretelling of bigger things for Nadal off his favorite clay surface. He would become a champion on grass and hard courts, perhaps sooner than skeptics would realize.

     

    This is the end of Part One. CLICK HERE to read Part Two.

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