Did Roger Federer Really Win the 2009 Wimbledon Championship?

Jeff KalafaAnalyst IIIJuly 6, 2009

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates victory with the trophy after the men's singles final match against Andy Roddick of USA on Day Thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2009 in London, England. Federer won 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Yes, I know. Roger Federer, the great Swiss tennis player, took home the Men's 2009 Wimbledon Championship and in doing so broke Pete Sampras' record for major titles. This was Federer's 15th.

The 27-year-old Federer hung in to defeat America's Andy Roddick in a match that ranks right up there with the greatest ever. In four hours and 18 minutes, Federer won 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14. 

Federer, who once considered becoming a professional soccer player, was brilliant and withstood a powerful effort by Roddick. The last game of the match was the first game Federer broke Roddick's serve.

Is Federer the "greatest of all time?" He's got a record 15 Grand Slams but is he the greatest? A lot of people want to label him as such.

Is he greater than Bill Tilden, Pancho Gonzales, Rod Laver, or the man whose record he captured, Pete Sampras?

The best way to answer this is with another question: Is Babe Ruth greater than Willie Mays or Barry Bonds? Is Michael Jordan greater than Bill Russell? Is Joe Louis greater than Muhammad Ali?

You can't compare eras, and if there were a definitive answer, we'd have to go back to arguing about something else with our beer.  

Another question that pops up when discussing Federer is "Is he the best player of our time?"

It appears that there is one Rafael Nadal who has made it very unclear.

In fact, there are plenty of fans out there who think Nadal has made it more than unclear...they think Nadal is better, and they present the numbers that make their case solid.

Head to head, Nadal leads 13-7 and has won five of the last seven times they've met in Grand Slam finals.

Nadal lost the first two times he met Federer at Wimbledon, but he won last year's epic match.

Before you jump on the Nadal bandwagon, consider this: Federer has played in 20 Grand Slam finals, and he's reached the semifinals of the last 20 Grand Slam tournaments.

Who's the best between the two? Right now, Nadal has his number, and the Spaniard is only 23—he's got a lot of time to catch up to Federer's records.

How does all this relate to yesterday's Men's Championship at the All England Club? How does this tennis love fest, which attracted so many past greats, get remembered?

I'm going to call it the "Roger Federer Lifetime Achievement Award," and it might have taken third place yesterday on the scale of lasting impressions.

Who came in second yesterday?

The world of tennis did. People are talking about the match, about where Federer stands on the all-time list of greats, and people are excited about Roddick.

Tennis needed a boost, and this didn't hurt!

The New York Daily News' Bob Raissman raised a good point on July 4. He claimed that if NBC felt confident in the ratings potential of Wimbledon, they would have televised all the matches "live."

It seems the ratings just aren't there. You can blame it on whatever you want, from Tiger Woods to fewer American men winning tournaments.

FOX ran an article on July 2 suggesting that "Wimbledon promoters lured fans to center court with the battle of the so-called babes." 

It turned out that the No. 8 seed Victoria Azarenka played the No. 28 seed Sorana Cirstea on center court the same day Serena Williams played her match on court two.

Is this an admittance the sport needs help?

Tennis needs great matches, and without sounding too nationalistic, tennis needs a great American player. They got both yesterday!

So who took home the prize?  

Andy Roddick, hands down.

What were people on this side of the Atlantic talking about when the match ended? They were talking about Roddick.

They were talking about how the 26-year-old is playing the best tennis of his career. They were talking about how much better he can still become.

Roddick has improved his game. His once vulnerable backhand has been turned into a weapon, but he still had the mental lapses and still tried to be too cute with too many shots.

He still made mistakes, but not as many as he used to; he's a better player, and he's got a great chance to get even better. Roddick showed us a lot this week.

Roddick also was a winner yesterday because he showed how gracious a player can be in defeat. 

It's easy to be a gracious winner, and Federer certainly was, but Roddick, in the court side interview, looked up at Pete Sampras and said, "Sorry Pete, I tried to hold him off."

It takes a winner to lose a four hour mararthon of a match, arguably the biggest match of their life, and not lose his or her sense of humor.

When asked how disappointed he was in the same interview, he made it clear that he wasn't disappointed but grateful for the opportunity to play in front of great fans.

Roddick won a lot of hearts yesterday. He won a lot of respect in February when he pulled out of Dubai and said, "I really don't agree with what went on over there. I don't know if it's the best thing to mix politics and sports."

Roddick has given American tennis fans a lot of hope—a lot to root for. He put on a great performance yesterday, and it looks like there will be plenty more from him.

I thought Roddick won yesterday.