Is Roger Federer the Greatest Tennis Player of All Time?

Dan SmithCorrespondent IJune 9, 2009

PARIS - JUNE 07:  Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates victory during the Men's Singles Final match against Robin Soderling of Sweden on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 7, 2009 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The modern athlete, due to the enhancements of training and equipment, is a bigger and stronger version of the athletes from era's past. 

That is the main crux to comparing a Roger Federer to a Rod Laver.

It is hard to imagine Rod Laver, a man who won all four major tennis tournaments in the same year twice, showing up with his wooden racket and wiping the court with Roger Federer. 

I can see Roger Federer going to Rod Laver's era, using a wooden racket and dominating in the same manner he has done in this era.

The best era of Men's Tennis would have to be from the prime of Bjorn Borg's career to the prime of Ivan Landl's career. 

That would capture the names that we all remember:

Jimmy Connors, Jon McEnroe, Boris Becker, and Pat Cash were the veterans.  Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were the young guys.  Jim Courier, like David Duvall would do later in golf, showed such promise, and left the impression that they both underachieved despite having success.

Is Roger Federer's amazing twenty straight trips to Grand Slam Semi-Finals due to his prowess or watered down competition? 

Would he have won fourteen Grand Slams if playing in the Borg to Lendl era?

It is something that we will always get to debate.  I don't think that Federer would have won fourteen Grand Slams if he was in that era.  I do think he would still have won the most Grand Slams though.

I think that Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player ever—and, with his epic win at Roland Garros to complete his personal Grand Slam, he now has the numbers to back that up.

He is tied with Pete Sampras for most Grand Slam victories and should become the all time leader this season with two majors left. 

He is now champion on all of the surfaces. 

Sampras's failure to win the French Open might be why he was never embraced as the greatest player ever, despite his record number of Grand Slam wins.

Pete Sampras never had a match like Roger Federer had with Rafael Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon championship.  Already called the greatest match ever for all of the elements that went into it, Federer's loss in that match solidified a rival for him. 

It has come at a cost though as a chronic knee injury might cost Rafael Nadal, 23, to supplant Roger Federer, 27, as the next great tennis player.

An upset kept them from meeting in the French Open Final this year and Federer took advantage, beating Robin Soderling for the tenth straight time.

I will listen to the watered down competition argument about Roger Federer. 

He has not had to battle with the stars of the greatest era of tennis.  I will say that gap between him and the field also has a lot to do with how good he really is.

There is no doubt in my mind that he would have been the ATP's No. 1 ranked player for 237 straight in any era he played in.  He would have been tested much more in the greatest era, but that would not have kept him from losing the No. 1 spot. 

Those guys beat up on each other back then and Federer would have been the consistent winner of the group.

I do wonder if Bjorn Borg would have still been dominant at Wimbledon even in Federer's era.  I would love to see the battles between Connors and Federer and of course McEnroe and Federer, but I think that Federer would have won for every one that he lost with those guys.

Just like they all seemed to do. 

I would be remiss to speak of tennis history and not mention the great Arthur Ashe.  He might not have been better than Federer on the tennis court, but that did not stop him from being a light of the world.

Roger Federer might be the greatest tennis player who ever lived, at least I think he is. 

Arthur Ashe will always be the greatest man who ever played tennis, and I know that is the truth.