Roger Federer: Significance of His Failure to Win Six In a Row

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
Roger Federer: Significance of His Failure to Win Six In a Row
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Roger’s Five U.S. Open Crowns

Originally, I had planned on writing an article called “Significance of Roger Federer’s Sixth Consecutive U.S. Open Title.”


Obviously, I cannot write that article now. 


In that original article, I planned on talking a little about the history of the U.S. Open. It started in 1881 and was played on grass. It was played briefly on clay (1975-77). The jewel of hard court tennis, it went through a natural drift in its evolution and settled on Deco Turf in 1978. 


I have always argued that tennis in Laver’s era was not played on the same level as today’s tennis. History, however, is important. If we don’t honor history for the sake of “living in the present,” we are forgetting that this present will also be submitted to history, an unavoidable fate of time.


Some Historical Facts


So, how about some history?


First, Bill Tilden won the U.S. Open (actually the U.S. National Championship) for six consecutive years and seven times altogether (1920-'25, 1929). The six in a row by Tilden were on grass; the six in a row by Federer (oops, I mean five) were on the hard surface. 


Other historical facts include Ivan Lendl (The Terminator) playing in eight straight finals from 1982-'88 and winning three of them from '85-'87.


Bjorn Borg was in the finals four times (1976, '78, '80-'81) but never won a title. Jimmy Connors reached the semi-finals 12 years in a row from 1974-'85. Jimmy participated in 22 U.S. Opens (1970-1992—he missed 1990.) Only Andre Agassi has been close, he took part in 21 (1986-2006). 


Most losses in the final include Lendl with five, Borg and Agassi with four each, and Sampras along with Tilden with three. 


Most wins are Tilden, who has seven, Federer with six (drat it, I mean five), and Sampras with five. 


Biggest Loss


Perhaps the biggest thing that was lost on Sept. 14 in Flushing Meadows was "Sweet Sixteen." The total of The Fed Express’s grand slam victories will remain at 15, for the time being, anyway. 


At 28 years of age, one cannot help but wonder how many more he can win. Now, that Delpo has won over Roger, the others in the top six will be out for blood.


The next Grand Slam is not until January of 2010. Nadal has already shown that he is very strong on the slower Deco Turf. Delpo will be there along with the others. The competition will be fierce. 


Nadal will be sky high for the 2010 French Open. Can Roger, the Lord of the Swings, win another French Open? Even his most ardent supporters would have to admit it is doubtful. Nadal is still the king in Paris and will probably win his seventh. 


The 2010 Wimbledon Championship is where Roger will have his next best chance for No. 16, if he hasn’t already gotten it by then. He is the undisputed “King of Grass.” 


He won the 2009 championship there without even one warmup tournament and dropped only one set until the final. Ditto the 2011 and 2012 Wimbledons as excellent chances for Federer.


Impact for 2009


So, how does his loss affect 2009? Of course, the year is not over yet. Fed has reached the finals in all four grand slams. The only thing between him and a calendar grand slam are losses in the championship rounds in Melbourne and New York City. Both of these losses were five-setters. Furthermore, and most importantly, he won the French, in addition to Wimbledon. 


For anyone other than Roger, 2009 would be one of the best years of all-time. But Roger won three grand slams in each of three different years (2004, 2006-'07). 2006 was a particularly great year. He won 12 tournaments including three grand slams, four 1000 Masters Events, and the Masters Cup. 


Maybe 2006 was his best year statistically, but 2009 is dear to the hearts of the legions of Federer’s fans. After he lost the heartbreaker in the AO to Nadal, he came back to win the Paris-London double. The ceremony at the French Open was like a coronation.


As stated earlier, the next Grand Slam will be in Australia in January. But, now that The Lone Roger has lost the U.S. Open, much of the anticipation for the AO is gone. No longer does the “Federer Four” hang in the balance. Roger cannot hold all four trophies at the same time. 


Impact on ATP Ranking


It goes without saying that the loss of the U.S. Open brings along the loss of ATP ranking points. Since he was the defending champion, he lost 800 points. But, he still holds a lead of 2,395 points over Nadal, who replaces Murray in second place. 


Furthermore, he actually picks up points against Murray, who had a very poor performance at the Open. His lead over Murray is now 2,850. Nadal had been in a free fall since the Madrid Open in May. He had a seemingly insurmountable lead of over 5,000 points at that time. Now that Rafa is back and playing well, his point level will stop dropping; indeed, it already has. 


Maybe it looks like his lead over Nadal is sufficient, but at next year's French Open and Wimbledon, Rafa can pick up thousands of points very easily. 


Let’s say that Federer wins Wimbledon over Rafa. Rafa would still gain 1,200 points. If Rafa wins the French, he would gain at least 2,620 points over Roger. He would gain even more if Roger does not reach the final. Therefore, the loss of 800 points in New York is, indeed, significant. 


Impact on STE 


I think another significant thing is the loss of one point over Nadal STE (Same Tournaments Entered.) Currently, Federer has a lead of 30-20 over Nadal STE. Had he won the U.S. Open, it would have been 31-20. STE simply means that both players were in the tournament and one of them won. For a complete analysis of STE, please go to this address:


A Rationalization


So, the Swiss remains at five U.S. Open titles. Robin Soderling’s career is made because he made the finals of just one grand slam; whereas Roger has been in the finals of 21 grand slams and won 15 of them. That puts things into perspective.


How sweet it could have been. But, a rational analysis shows that Roger could have been just a little bit lucky in Paris. He was down 2-0 to Haas and then down 4-3 in the third set and facing a break point. 


In the semis, Delpo was working him over before crumbling in the fourth and fifth sets.  So, maybe it’s justice after all. Delpo got revenge in New York, but Roger got the French, the missing link in his legacy. 


What significant things am I overlooking? I would appreciate your comments.

Follow B/R on Facebook


Subscribe Now

By signing up for our newsletter, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Thanks for signing up.