Roger Federer: Grand Slam Record Will Be Safe from Younger Challengers

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05:  Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a shot against Andy Murray of Great Britain during the Men's Singles Tennis Gold Medal Match on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on August 5, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

There has been a lot of recent talk among tennis stars about who is the best in the world. Despite what some may say, Roger Federer is the best there is now and will be for a long time.

Spanish tennis player David Ferrer believes that his compatriot Rafael Nadal will eventually have the most Grand Slam victories of all time.

According to Federico Coppini of Tennis World, Ferrer said in an interview, "For now, the best player in the world is Federer. But I'm sure Nadal will have the opportunity to beat his record. Rafa is still young."

Federer's impressive year at age 31 proves that he is still the best and can get it done. He won his 17th Grand Slam title with a win at Wimbledon, although Nadal is not far behind with 11 in his career.

Andy Murray recently compared the two stars as well. Coppini transcribed part of an interview with Charlie Rose in which the Brit said:

Roger plays with a very soft racket, he does not need to hit the ball very strong as the other athletes on the circuit and is always playing very close to the base line, he is a classic player. Of course the field is very strong. Nadal does have the brute force and expresses such intensity from the first to the last point, and he is one of the best players that tennis has ever seen and probably will see for a while, the same as Jimmy Connors. His energy and enthusiasm come out every time he enters the court.

While the 2012 U.S. Open champion shows his respect to the current No. 1 player, he offers quite a bit of praise for Nadal. A comparison to Connors, one of the best Americans ever to play the game, is a nice compliment.

However, the question remains about whether the Spaniard will be able to catch Federer in one of the most prestigious records in the sport.

The Swiss legend proved in 2012 that it is still nearly impossible to defeat him on grass. Federer won his seventh Wimbledon title and reached the finals of the London Olympics before being upset by Andy Murray in the gold-medal match.

Six titles this year and a 61-8 record showed he can still win on other surfaces as well. 

This all means that Nadal will have to keep chasing a moving target, at least in the near future. Although most tennis players start to break down after age 30, Federer's technique instead of power will help him win deep into his career.

Even with his best days behind him, he can still win at least two or three more major championships.

As for Nadal, a knee injury has kept him out of competition since an early exit at Wimbledon. Everyone knows he can still dominate the clay courts at Roland Garros, but he has not won another Slam since 2010.

Even if he comes back healthy next season, he needs to prove he can win on other surfaces to have a chance of catching the record.

Another thing that can stop the 26-year-old player is the growth of Novak Djokovic. The Serbian defeated Nadal in three straight finals and will be a nuisance in every tournament. Between him, Murray and others, men's tennis is as deep as it has been in years. Nadal will not be able to coast to the finals with this crew around.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are two of the greatest tennis players of all time. However, Federer's ability to win Grand Slams has been unmatched throughout history, and it will be difficult for anyone else to come close. 

It might be years for anyone to reach his mark, but until that point, Federer's legacy as one of the best ever is safe.