Roger Federer: Can His Top 20 Records in Tennis Ever Be Broken?
Do you remember what it felt like when Emmitt Smith hung up his cleats, no longer hustling in the Dallas Cowboy backfield?
Or how the Windy City sighed when the Chicago Bears could no longer rely on "Sweetness” to gain impossible yardage to convert on a third down?
When was it that Edwin Moses no longer dominated the 400-meter hurdles at the summer Olympics or Michael Jordan no longer jammed the ball home for the Chicago Bulls?
You see, great athletes not only impact themselves and their teams––they have a profound influence on the game itself, and its fans. They push the limits and stretch former boundaries as peers and competitors learn that something new is possible and try to follow their lead.
The longer they play, the greater the record.
Their time to excel on the playing field––whatever its boundaries––is limited, because no player’s athletic life goes on forever, despite rumors to the contrary brought on by Brett Favre aficionados.
Sooner or later the athlete cannot continue to improve, and if you cannot continue to add to your game, the process of subtraction begins––you begin to move toward “less.” You settle for “good” rather than maintaining “great.”
For Roger Federer to prove he is moving forward, to add to his game, he must increase the distance he has established between himself and everyone else on tour. He must add to his already staggering records to bounce back into glory once again.
How many of these records are reachable by anyone currently playing tennis today, including Federer himself? Can Federer himself improve on perfection??
Record 1: 16 Grand Slam Final Victories
Roger Federer holds the men's record in tennis for winning the most grand slam singles titles at 16.
Federer won his first slam trophy on the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon in 2003.
He went on to win five more Wimbledon titles in a row through 2008, when Nadal defeated him in the finals at the All-England Club.
He won his sixth Wimbledon title in 2009 before falling in the quarterfinals in 2010. This year represents the first time Federer has not stood on Centre Court during the finals since 2003.
In 2004, Federer won three more slam titles: the Australian, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, which Federer went on to win five consecutive times.
In all, Federer has won the Australian Open four times, his last in 2010; the French Open once; six championships at Wimbledon; and five trophies at the U.S. Open.
The next active player closest to Federer is Rafael Nadal, who has won a total of eight titles, including five French Open titles, two Wimbledon crowns, and one Australian Open Championship. Nadal has the capability to reach 16.
That does not mean, however, the Swiss plans to stand still. Federer, of course, can add to his total. Reportedly, Federer is hoping to win 20 slam singles titles before the sun sets on his miraculous career.
Record 2: Ten Consecutive Slam Finals
Federer set an all-time record for men by reaching ten consecutive Grand Slam finals, starting with the 2005 Wimbledon Championships through to the 2007 U.S. Open.
By accomplishing this feat, Federer broke the previous male record of seven set by Jack Crawford in 1934. The Swiss won eight of these ten finals, excepting his losses to Rafael Nadal in the 2006 and 2007 French Opens.
The previous Open-era record was four, shared by Rod Laver in 1969 and by Andre Agassi in the year 2000.
During this streak, Federer was never runner-up in two consecutive Grand Slam finals.
There is no active player close to this record, although currently Rafael Nadal has reached and won the last two slam finals at the French Open and Wimbledon.
It will be highly unlikely that this record will be equalled or surpassed any time soon by anyone currently playing the game, including Federer himself.
Record 3: Most Consecutive Wins at the U.S Open
Federer holds the men's record for the most consecutive U.S. Open titles with five.
He won his first U.S. Open championship in 2004, defeating former champion Lleyton Hewitt, 6-0, 7-6, 6-0.
It was an awe-inspiring beginning for Federer. Defeating Hewitt, who pretty much had Federer’s number during the previous two years, marked the beginning of Federer's stranglehold on the U.S. Open Championship.
Federer was on his way to a record-setting run of six consecutive wins in 2009 when he lost to Argentine Juan Marin del Potro in a five-set masterpiece.
If he wins in 2010, Federer will hold the record in the modern era for the most U.S. Open title wins with six, surpassing Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors, who have each won five championships in total but not consecutively.
There is no active player that touches Federer’s accomplishments at the U.S. Open or looks to be able to equal his record on the hard courts in Queens.
This record will stand for years to come.
Record 4: Five Consecutive Titles at Two Different Slams
Roger Federer is the only male player in tennis history to hold at least five consecutive titles at two different Grand Slam Tournaments––Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Bjorn Borg won five consecutive Wimbledon titles, and ironically, Federer himself stopped Pete Sampras from winning his fifth consecutive title at the All-England Club in 2001.
Of his contemporaries, no other player has won five consecutive titles at any slam. Nadal holds four consecutive French Open titles and five overall wins.
The chances are scant that any other player in the field will accomplish this rare feat.
Expect this record to stay Federer's alone for many years to come.
Record 5: Back-to-Back Titles at Four Consecutive Wimbledons and US Opens
Roger Federer is the only male player in tennis history to win the same two slam tournaments back-to-back for four consecutive years.
Federer won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon tournaments from 2004 to 2007.
The Swiss ruled the summer season from 2004 through 2007, capturing Wimbledon around the Fourth of July and the U.S. Open around Labor Day each year.
In 2004, he defeated Andy Roddick at Wimbledon and Lleyton Hewitt in Queens.
In 2005, he again defeated Roddick at Wimbledon and Andre Agassi at the U.S. Open.
In 2006, Federer overcame Nadal at Wimbledon and Roddick at the Open.
In 2007, Federer again defeated Nadal on the grass and Novak Djokovic in New York City.
Bjorn Borg won back-to-back French Open and Wimbledon Champions in three consecutive years from 1978 to 1980.
The closest contemporary to equalling this record is Nadal, who has won both the French and Wimbledon in 2010. Now, he just needs to do it three more times––each.
This is another record that may be within Nadal's reach, but it will be a difficult record to surpass.
Record 6: Wins in His First Seven Grand Slam Finals
Roger Federer is the only player in the modern era to win his first seven grand slam finals.
Federer made the finals and won at Wimbledon 2003, Australian 2004, Wimbledon 2004, U.S. Open 2004, Wimbledon 2005, U.S. Open 2005, Australian 2006.
Rafael Nadal ended Federer’s finals streak at the French Open in 2006 by defeating him, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6.
Somebody new will have to overtake Federer in this record.
It is difficult to imagine anyone surpassing this record, but before Federer began his reign, many of the records he has compiled were difficult to imagine.
Record 7: Won Three Grand Slam Titles At Least Four Times Each
By winning the 2010 Australian Open, Federer became the only male tennis player to win three different Grand Slam tournaments at least four times each (four Australian Opens, six Wimbledon titles, and five US Opens).
Federer has managed to dominate on all surfaces except clay, where Rafael Nadal has held a distinct advantage even though Federer made the French Open finals four consecutive years from 2006 through 2009.
The only active player who might reach this record is Nadal, who holds five French Open titles and two Wimbledon crowns.
Winning on the hard courts of the US and Australia Opens, however, might be difficult for Nadal to accomplish multiple times.
As the game changes and all surfaces merge to play like one, this record may be reachable in the future.
Record 8: Won Three Different Slam Titles in a Calendar Year Three Times
Federer is the only male player in tennis history to win three Grand Slam tournaments in a calendar year three different times in his career.
In 2004, 2006, and 2007, Federer won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
If Rafael Nadal wins the U.S. Open this year (2010), he will have captured three different slam titles in one year––once.
Pete Sampras and Mats Wilander have each captured three slam titles in one calendar year––once in the "open" era.
Rod Laver, of course, in winning the second of his calendar year slams in 1969 may also be included in this category because in winning four, he also won three. Laver won one Grand Slam before the "open" era began.
It is hard to imagine the great Swiss doing this another time, winning three in one year, but he certainly has the ability and the game to do it.
Record 9: Won His First 8 Hard Court Slam Finals
Federer won his first eight hard court Grand Slam finals, an all-time record.
His first loss in a hard court Grand Slam final came at the 2009 Australian Open against Nadal. The Majorcan rival has kept Federer humble and most often does his best to equal or outdo the Swiss.
After Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro defeated Federer on the hard courts of the U.S. Open in 2009.
Of all the surfaces today, the hard courts offer the most competition and the most opportunity for more players. That means that winning consecutively on hard courts is difficult. More competitors play well on the hard courts.
It is hard to imagine that anyone will make it to eight hard court grand slam finals, let alone win them all.
This record looks very safe.
Record 10: Won 16 Grand Slam Titles in Eight Years
Roger Federer won 16 Grand Slam finals in eight years, from 2003 through 2010.
It is an all-time male record.
Sampras won 14 Grand Slam titles in the span of 13 years (1990–2002).
Nadal may win 16 Grand Slam titles, but he will never do so in eight years; he has been playing eight years already and currently holds only eight slam titles.
The man who surpasses the Federer record must average over two slams wins a year for eight years or better.
Hard to do, but not impossible.
Record 11: Appeared in 22 Grand Slam Finals
As of the 2010 Australian Open, Federer has appeared in an all-time male record of 22 Grand Slam finals, beating the previous record of 19 held by Ivan Lendl, former world No. 1.
Of all the active male players who have a chance of reaching or surpassing this Federer record, Rafael Nadal has appeared in the most Grand Slam finals with ten.
This is one record that Nadal could easily reach and surpass, again assuming that Federer does not add to his totals.
Record 12: Reached All Four Slam Finals in Back-to-Back Years
Federer is the only male player in tennis history to reach the final of all four Grand Slam tournaments in back-to-back calendar years. He did this in 2006 and 2007.
In 2006, Federer became only the second player in the open era to reach all four finals in a single year, after Rod Laver did so in 1969.
In 2009, Federer again appeared in all four Grand Slam finals, becoming the only male player in tennis history to achieve this feat three times in his career (2006–07, 2009).
This remains another elusive record that will be hard to beat, but certainly not impossible.
Record 13: Reached All Four Grand Slam Finals At Least Four Times
Federer is the only male player to reach the final of all four Grand Slam singles tournaments at least four times.
Nadal has reached the finals four times in the French Open and again at Wimbledon, but that represents only two of the four slam tournaments.
So far, the Majorcan has only reached one hard court final, the Australian Open in 2009, which he won.
Unless Nadal can find a way to conquer the hard courts, he will not reach or surpass Federer in this record-breaking statistic.
Record 14: Reached 23 Consecutive Grand Slam Semifinals
Federer holds the all-time male record appearing in 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals, from the 2004 Wimbledon championship to the 2010 Australian Open, shattering the previous male record of 10 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals.
Robin Soderling of Sweden ended his streak at the 2010 French Open, defeating Federer in the quarterfinals.
This is a record that will stand the test of time.
It is hard to imagine anyone else reaching such a level of consistent play on all surfaces.
Record 15: Reached Five Consecutive French Open Semifinals
Federer is the only male player in the Open era to reach five consecutive French Open semifinals (2005–09).
It is hard to appreciate how successful Federer has been at the French. His only problem is that, when he reaches the finals, he inevitably faces Nadal, perhaps the greatest player ever on clay. It just shows how dominant Nadal has been on this surface.
Federer has also reached seven consecutive Wimbledon semifinals (2003-09), which is an all-time record in the history of tennis.
The semifinals record looks like another record difficult to surpass.
Record 16: Federer Won 40 Consecutive Matches at The U.S. Open
Federer's 40 consecutive match wins at the US Open (2004–09) is an Open-era male record.
The end of this streak occurred in the finals of the U.S. Open in 2009 against the Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer has lost one match in six years at the U.S. Open. Will he lose another one this year?
It seems likely that another player will find a way to surpass this record, but it will not be easy.
Record 17: Ranked No. 1 for At Least Four Consecutive Years
Federer is the first man to be ranked No. 1 in the world for at least four consecutive (non-calendar) years, from February 2, 2004 to August 17, 2008.
Federer is the second man to regain his No. 1 year-end ranking, which he did in 2009. Ivan Lendl, who lost his No. 1 ranking in 1988, regained it in 1989.
Federer is the third man to hold the year-end No. 1 ranking for at least five consecutive years (2004-2007), along with Connors (1974-1978) and Sampras (1993-1998).
Rafael Nadal ended 2008 ranked No. 1 and has accumulated 60 weeks at No.1.
There are certainly opportunities for Nadal to reign for many years to come and equal Federer's time as the No. 1 player.
Record 18: Ranked No. 1 for 237 Consecutive Weeks
Until losing the World No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal on August 18, 2008, Federer was the top-ranked player for a record 237 consecutive weeks, surpassing the previous record of 160 consecutive weeks held by Jimmy Connors.
This is the record for both males and females, surpassing the previous record of 186 consecutive weeks held by Steffi Graf.
Nadal has been ranked No. 1 now for 14 weeks. He has a long way to go to reach this record.
The chances of anybody reaching or surpassing this elusive record are minuscule.
Record 19: First Player To Finish in the Top Two for Seven Consecutive Years
Federer is the first player to finish the year as one of the top two players in the world for seven consecutive years from 2003 through 2009.
Depending on what happens at the U.S. Open this year, Federer could well extend this record. But he would need to equal his finalist appearance of 2009; Novak Djokovic remains within striking distance of taking over the No. 2 spot after the conclusion of the U.S. Open if Federer fades.
Rafael Nadal certainly must be closing in on this record as well since he began his own No. 2 ranking in 2005.
Record 20: Won 56 Consecutive Matches on Hard Courts from 2005 to 2006
From 2005 to 2006, Federer won a record 56 consecutive matches on hard courts before losing to Nadal in the 2006 Dubai final.
Federer also holds the second-longest streak on hard courts of 36 consecutive wins (2006–07).
Over a period of 25 months (February 2005 - February 2007), Federer went 111-2 (98.2 %) on hard courts.
For a period of time, Federer dominated on hard courts. While recent results have not given him the edge, his wish to win more slam titles may depend on his ability to win on hard courts––Nadal's least favorite surface.
This is one of those reachable records.
Federer Continues To Add to His Records Each Time He Steps on Court...
Roger Federer loves the game of tennis. His desire to improve his game only adds dimension and depth to the competition.
Needless to say, each time Federer steps on court, he adds to a record because he is at the summit in so many categories.
Luckily for all of us, he remains fully engaged and ready to compete. His rivalry with Rafael Nadal continues to have fans riveted.
Will he win another U.S. Open? No one is counting him out––not by a long shot!