Wimbledon 2011: What Roger Federer Has Riding on Wimbledon This Summer
Roger Federer has reached an interesting point in his historic career.
His recent French Open performance delayed suspicions, however unfounded they might have been, that he is indeed reaching the twilight of his playing days. And it's possible that few actually gave him any shot at winning at Roland Garros, considering he was up against the younger, faster "King of Clay" Rafael Nadal.
But now it's time for Wimbledon, Federer's best major tournament. In order to truly silence the critics, Federer needs to come up big, with a finals victory (ideally versus Nadal).
But, other than public perception, what else does Roger Federer have riding on the 2011 Championships at Wimbledon?
He Can Stop His Grand Slam Losing Streak
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Roger Federer has competed in five consecutive majors without emerging victorious.
How rare is that for Federer? Well, he has never gone this long without winning a Grand Slam since he won his first one, the 2003 Wimbledon.
For a little bit of perspective, Rafael Nadal has never even gone five majors without winning since he won the 2005 French Open, his first career Grand Slam title.
He Can Win His First Major in 2011
Borg, Sampras, Federer and Rod Laver
Yes, this seems awfully similar to the first point, but with one additional, significant nugget.
Roger Federer has won at least one Grand Slam title in every year from 2003 through 2010. Only two other players have taken home at least one major championship for eight straight years: Björn Borg (1974-1981) and Pete Sampras (1993-2000).
Federer is already in the company of these two historic players. He and Borg are the only two men's singles players ever to win five consecutive Wimbledon titles, while Sampras is second to Federer in all-time men's singles championships (14 to Roger's 16).
But another record to surpass those two certainly wouldn't hurt Federer's legacy.
The Sampras Seven
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Speaking of Pete Sampras...
With a Wimbledon victory, Roger Federer can tie Sampras's all-time Open Era record with seven career Wimbledon championships. That is, of course, a men's singles record.
He'll need quite a bit more success if he wants to catch Martina Navratilova, who won nine Wimbledon titles during her illustrious career. But that's another article for another day.
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Roger Federer has reached a Grand Slam semifinals 28 times in his career. By reaching the semis at Wimbledon, he'll come within two of Jimmy Connors' all-time record of 31.
Given Federer's remarkable success at Wimbledon, moving one step closer to this mark doesn't seem all that unreasonable. But it is interesting to note that Federer has never actually lost in the semifinals before at this tournament.
Since winning his first Wimbledon, he has been defeated once in the finals (in 2008, to Rafael Nadal) and once in the quarterfinals (in 2010, to Tomáš Berdych).
Putting Distance Between Him and Nadal
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Federer may be within reach or have already passed the marks of all-time greats, but it's a contemporary rival that may have the best of him yet.
Rafael Nadal has made significant strides toward matching Roger Federer's success. With his recent French Open victory, Nadal is up to 10 Grand Slam titles. All of a sudden, Federer's 16 doesn't seem like that lofty a number, especially considering that Nadal only recently turned 25 years old.
And if Nadal happens to win Wimbledon, Federer's most successful tournament, it will already be his third major victory on grass, further disproving the already-debunked theory that he can only win on clay.
If Federer wants to put a stop to Nadal's ascension toward the top (which, in itself, is a rise toward Federer's own status), he can potentially put destiny into his own hands by winning Wimbledon this summer.