It seems that every time Roger Federer takes the court these days, he sets a new record for this tennis milestone or surpasses another tennis great for that long-held record.
There are countless records in tennis which Roger Federer set or surpassed during his 14-year professional career—so far.
Most recently, the Swiss moved past Pete Sampras for the ATP's most weeks at No. 1—a record Sampras held since he retired from tennis over 10 years ago.
After Federer's last rise and fall from No. 1 in 2009-2010, everyone—even Federer's most ardent admirers—felt that the Swiss could never rise to No. 1 again. With Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic battling it out for No.1, most felt Federer was finished as a holder of the No. 1 ranking.
Everyone, that is, except Federer.
For the Swiss, it was hard to accept that he remained only one week shy of Sampras' 286 weeks at No. 1.
But on July 9, 2012, Federer did rise to No.1 and soon left Pistol Pete in another cloud of tennis dust. Federer currently celebrates 300 weeks at No.1.
This proves that you can never count Federer out—except, perhaps, in the following 10 categories...
For some reason, ending the year as No. 1 is very important to tennis professionals.
This probably harkens back to the days when players were only ranked at the end of the year by tennis organizations and the media—back before the WTA and the ATP.
For our purposes, this category concerns male players ranked since the inception of the Open Era in tennis.
Pete Sampras ended the years 1993-1998 ranked No. 1—six years in total.
Jimmy Connors ended the years 1974-1978 ranked No. 1 for five years.
Tied with Connors is Roger Federer who was ranked No. 1 from 2004-2007 ending each year ranked in the top spot.
Federer additionally ended 2009 ranked No. 1—giving him five year-end No. 1 rankings.
Federer, however, is again ranked No. 1—hoping to extend his stay at the top until the end of 2012. That would give Federer six year-ending No. 1 rankings.
Can Federer do it again to tie with Sampras?
Beyond that, the world No. 1 would have to do it all over again to pass Sampras.
Overtaking Sampras in this category to hold the record outright remains very doubtful for Federer.
Every year, the clock starts over in tennis—players, male and female, enter tournaments, play matches and some will win titles.
Throughout a career, the titles accumulate. At the end, the tennis professional measures his or her success in part by the number of titles won.
Ahead of Federer in this category are Martina Navratilova with 167 career titles, Chris Evert with 154, Jimmy Connors with 109, Steffi Graf with 107, Margaret Smith Court with 92, and John McEnroe with 77.
Federer with 76 career titles, remains in seventh place, one behind McEnroe.
Chances are that Federer will only aim to pass Jimmy Connors at 109. That means Federer has to win another 33 titles to equal Connors.
Federer averages a little over five titles per year, based on his 14-year career. That means Federer would have to play another seven years to pass Connors—and Federer would be 38 by then.
Is it possible? Perhaps—but only a remote chance that Federer might pass Connors.
On the other hand, the Swiss will never overtake Navratilova for the greatest number of titles won.
Winning matches is the foundation for winning titles. Longevity is a key factor as well as the total number of tournaments played season after season.
The following are examples of outstanding single-season performances by male tennis pros.
In 1977, Guillermo Vilas of Argentina had 130 match wins and 14 losses which meant that Vilas played between 25-30 tournaments that year.
Prior to that great season, Ilie Nastase of Romania won 118 matches while losing 15 in 1973.
Ivan Lendl set the courts on fire winning 109 matches in 1980—losing 28 and followed that in 1982 by winning 106 in 1982 while losing nine.
In 1981, moreover, Lendl added to his trifecta by winning 97 matches—losing 14.
During the 1974 season, Jimmy Connors won 93 matches while losing four.
Roger Federer, seventh on this list, won 92 matches in 2006 while losing five.
These are single-season records for the most match wins in a 12-month period.
In 2013 or a year following, Federer would have to amass a very impressive and very long win streak to better Vilas' 130-match wins from 1977.
This record will stand for a very long time. Federer will not be the one to overtake Vilas.
In fact, it is hard to imagine that anyone will surpass the superlative Argentine.
Considering all tennis professionals who labored through long and successful careers, Martina Navratilova holds the record with 1,442 match wins.
The great Martina is followed by Chris Evert who won 1,309 matches.
Jimmy Connors holds the record for men but comes in third here with 1,243 match wins during his career.
He is followed by Ivan Lendl who has 1,071. Guillermo Vilas of Argentina remains fifth with 925 while Steffi Graf trails slightly with 902.
John McEnroe holds a slight lead over Roger Federer—875 match wins to 871 as they follow in sixth and seventh place.
So if Federer were to first pass Connors, he would need another 372 match wins.
Let us assume Federer plays 20 tournaments and averages five match wins per tournament—that would give him 100 match wins per year. Using those numbers, Federer would have to play another 3.75 years to reach Connors.
Reaching and passing Navratilova, however, is asking a great deal.
In order to accomplish that huge task, Federer would have to win 571 more matches over the next 6 years.
Federer would be 37 years old by then playing at a fairly hectic pace.
Federer might become the all-time match winner for men—but will undoubtedly not be inclined to try to pass the ladies.
This is another very tough record for Federer to equal or surpass.
In 1977, Guillermo Vilas won 16 titles. No man in the Open Era has managed to equal that record.
Ivan Lendl, however, won 15 titles in 1982—falling one short of Vilas' record.
Jimmy Connors, during his greatest year on tour in 1974, also took home 15 titles, equaling Lendl but falling short by one title of equaling Vilas.
Ilie Nastase won 14 titles in 1973, holding the record for a short time until Vilas passed him in 1977.
Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe each won 13 titles in one season—Borg in 1979 and McEnroe in 1984.
Tied for seventh place with 12 titles are Roger Federer (2006), Ilie Nastase (1972) and Thomas Muster (1995).
The chances of Federer winning 16 or 17 titles to equal or surpass Vilas are, seemingly, slim and none.
Federer will never supplant Vilas in this category during the remaining years of his career.
It is true that Federer holds the most Grand Slam singles titles for men at 17.
But, the current world No. 1 does not hold the most Grand Slam titles for all professional tennis players.
There are a handful of women who reached totals greater than 17.
When you look at Margaret Smith Court with 24, Steffi Graf with 22, Helen Wills Moody with 19 and Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova tied with 18 each, Federer has some work left to do.
Federer would have to win seven more Grand Slam singles titles to tie Margaret Court—but only three more to reach 20 and pass the ladies sitting at 18 and 19.
More than likely, Federer will work to reach 20—because it is symmetrical and far beyond those following him in the game—giving Federer plenty of breathing room.
Twenty also seems respectable when compared to those awesome ladies ahead of him.
Reaching 20 Grand Slam singles titles will keep Federer moving forward and fully engaged in tennis for several more seasons.
This record is all about consistency and longevity.
Fabrice Santoro of France leads in this category, having appeared in 70 Grand Slam tournaments over 17.5 years.
Next is Andre Agassi who competed in 61 Grand Slams over 15.25 years. Jonas Borkman made it to 58 Grand Slam tournaments while Ivan Lendl, Michael Chang and Wayne Ferreira followed with 57.
Jimmy Connors, Mark Woodforde and Arnaud Clement came in with 55 total appearances while Stefan Edberg, Vincent Spadea, Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer have appeared in 54 Grand Slams.
For the past 13.5 years, Federer has not missed a major tournament.
Federer only needs to appear at the 2013 Australian Open, followed by the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open to tie with Jonas Borkman who ranks third on the list with 58.
It would take Federer until Wimbledon in 2014 to tie with Agassi who is second on this list.
But, it would require Federer to remain fully active until the Australian Open in 2017 to reach Santoro— the 2017 French Open to pass him.
That is over four years from now, and Federer would be 35 years of age. That assumes, of course, that the Swiss suffers from no injury or illness to keep him out of Grand Slam competition in the near future.
It is a long way off. Federer might do it because there is always that possibility. Time will tell.
The outcomes concerning this record require some thought.
It would seem likely that Pete Sampras or Roger Federer would already hold this record since they have each won at Wimbledon seven times.
However, that is not the case because prior to the late 1980s when hard courts became the surface of choice at the Australian Open in Melbourne and at Flushing Meadows in New York City, other Grand Slams were played on grass in addition to Wimbledon.
Jimmy Connors holds this record, having won 106 Grand Slam matches on grass with Boris Becker second at 77.
Connors participated and won both the Australian Open and the U.S. Open when they were played on grass in 1974.
Federer and John McEnroe are tied for third place—each with 66 major match wins on grass.
It would take Federer another six years winning titles at Wimbledon to surpass Connors in this interesting category.
Federer would be 37 years old—not only playing at Wimbledon but also winning the next half-dozen Wimbledon Championships to pass Connors in the shortest amount of time.
Chances are rare that Federer will ever break Connors' stranglehold on this record.
Winning a career Golden Slam means that you have won each of the Majors at least once in your career—the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Plus, you must also have won an Olympic gold medal in singles—hence, the Golden Slam.
Andre Agassi accomplished a career Golden Slam after winning the gold medal in Athens in 1996. He had won the Australian Open in 1995, the French Open in 1999, Wimbledon in 1992 and the U.S. Open in 1994—each for the first time.
After Agassi, Rafael Nadal managed it by winning an Olympic gold medal in 2008 just after winning his first Wimbledon title. Earlier, he won his first French Open in 2005. Following his gold medal win, Nadal would win the Australian Open in 2009 and the U.S. Open in 2010.
Steffi Graf, of course, has a "true" Golden Slam, having accomplished all five events in the same calendar year; but no one else has managed that to date.
Federer, of course, can only equal Agassi and Nadal by winning a gold medal in singles during the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janerio.
By then, the Swiss Maestro will be 35 or 36 depending on the exact date of the Olympic tennis competition.
This will be a very tough task for Federer to accomplish.
Federer has never won a calendar year Grand Slam—in fact no man has since 1969 when Australian Rod Laver did it—winning all four majors in the same year.
Laver accomplished it first in 1962 and will undoubtedly be the only person to win the Grand Slam twice in a career.
Most recently, German juggernaut Steffi Graf won all four majors in 1988 as well as winning an Olympic gold medal in singles. Graf was the last professional tennis player to win a Grand Slam.
Prior to Laver, Aussie Margaret Smith Court accomplished the feat in 1970.
Maureen Connolly of the United States did it in 1953. The first to scoop up all four in one year was American Don Budge in 1938.
Federer was so close twice—but needed to capture the French Open in 2006 and 2007. Unfortunately, the Swiss could never get past Nadal at Roland Garros.
This is one record Federer yearned to capture, but it is beyond him now to accomplish it.
Still, the hope of winning a true Grand Slam remains—keeping Federer in the hunt.