Roger Federer: Top 25 Moments of Fed-Ex's Career

Glenn VallachContributor IIIJanuary 11, 2012

Roger Federer: Top 25 Moments of Fed-Ex's Career

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    Even those who don't believe that Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time are hard-pressed to argue against his claim to be the most successful of all time.

    He's won the most major titles, the most Year-End Championships, and the most prize money.  He's spent the most consecutive weeks at number one, achieved a career grand slam, and won the most grass and hardcourt ATP titles.  He's been a part of arguably the best rivalry ever, played in perhaps the greatest match ever, and hit some of the most sensational shots ever.  As far as tennis resumes go, Fed's is unparalleled.

    With all of the accomplishments have come the moments.  The epic, transcendent moments that only legends can make.  The moments that not only define a match—or a tournament—or a player, but the moments that define a sport.  The Michael Jordan over Bryon Russell type moments.

    Like Jordan, Federer has authored so many of these moments that we almost take them for granted. 

    So with a few days to kill before the start of the 2012 Australian Open, we've decided to take a trip down memory lane and do the impossible: rank the top 25 moments of the Swiss Maestro's career.


Number 25: Roger's First Masters Cup, 2003 (d. Agassi 6-3, 6-0, 6-4)

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    Soon after breaking onto the scene with his first major victory at Wimbledon in 2003, Federer confirmed his success by winning his first Masters Cup, shellacking Andre Agassi 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 in the final.

    It was the first of six Masters Cup (presently World Tour Finals) titles for Federer, an all-time record.

    Any die-hard Roger fan will tell you that this was one of Federer's finest works of art: an 88-minute master-class performance in which the Swiss great never faced a break point. 

    Federer's movement and ground strokes were scary good, so good that he didn't even bother to use the serve and volley technique that netted him a Wimbledon championship just months earlier.  He absolutely flew around the Houston hardcourt, cracking winners with stunning precision and speed.  Many of the winners seemed to come out of nowhere, without any prior angle or advantage to speak of.

    Looking back at this one, a couple things stand out.  First is Roger's quickness.  He was gliding around the court so smoothly that you could barely hear his sneakers.  And poor Agassi barely got one ball past him the entire match.  As quick as Federer remains today, he was that much quicker in 2003. 

    The second is his backhand.  It was so much more of a weapon back then.  Of course, Roger still primarily dictated with the forehand, but he also whipped several backhand winners from all parts of the court, winners that have dwindled as the years have passed.  It was also notably reliable.  You weren't seeing the shanks or short-balls that tend to come from Fed's weaker wing today.  Roger almost tries to hide his backhand these days, back then he embraced it.

    And though this was a past-his-prime Agassi, it wasn't a washed up one.  Agassi had won the Australian Open earlier that year and still possessed a powerful and diverse ground game.  In fact, he had earned two match points against Federer in an epic Round Robin battle earlier that week, which Roger eventually won in a third-set tiebreak.  But Roger was way too spry and good in the final.  So good that Agassi even admitted that Federer's lofty level would inspire him to train harder for 2004, pretty powerful words from someone who was already a legend himself.

    It's no wonder Agassi has since given Fed the nod in the greatest of all time debate.

    Considering the prestige of the tournament and opponent, this brilliant performance has to rank as one of Federer's best.

Number 24: 2009 French Open Semi-Final Victory over Juan Martin Del Potro

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    To this day, Roger Federer's triumph at the 2009 French Open remains one of the most talked about events in tennis.  People talk about Fed outclassing Robin Soderling in the final.  They talk about Rafael Nadal finally losing at Roland Garros, creating the opening of a lifetime for Roger.  They even talk about Jimmy Jump leaping onto the court and scaring the daylights out of Federer in one of the oddest moments in slam history.

    But what seems to be forgotten is how tense of a grind Fed's march to the final was in that fateful fortnight.  Roland Garros 2009 was hardly the exercise in effortless brilliance that has come to define so many of Roger's major successes.  Instead, he had to fight and grit his way to the title that had eluded him for so long.  He struggled mightily in the second round against Jose Acasuso, narrowly prevailing 7-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-2.  He then dropped the first set to Paul-Henri Mathieu before rebounding for a four set win.

    Then things got really tough.  Rafael Nadal was shocked by Soderling in the fourth round, and instead of feeling liberated, Federer had a world of expectations and opportunity fall onto his back.  

    Federer has since admitted as such, noting that he could not walk the streets of Paris in the tournament's second week without being reminded of the precious opportunity that had surfaced for him.

    His nerves were painfully apparent in his next match, a fourth round tight-wire act against good friend Tommy Haas.  Federer fell behind two sets and found himself down a break point at 3-4 in the fourth set.  If Federer lost that point, Haas would've served for the match and Roger still may not have had a French Open.  But as great champions often do, Fed came up with some magic—a screaming inside-out forehand that clipped the line.  He held, won eight straight games, and ran away with the match.

    But as nerve-wracking as things got against Haas, tensions ran even higher in the semi-finals against world number five Juan Martin del Potro.  For most of the match, del Potro seemed like the better player, creaming his forehand and serving so powerfully that even the most optimistic of Fed fans must have thought the dream was over.  Heck, he didn't even break del Potro until the fourth set, as the Argentinian dictated the majority of points with a stunning combination of speed and power.  Federer though, again rose to the occasion to preserve history.  He finally found his groove in a must-win second set tie-breaker to even things up.  After getting throttled in the third set, Fed again rallied in the face of elimination, earning his first two breaks of the match in a convincing fourth set victory.

    Then, after trading early breaks, Federer bravely served the match out after del Potro double faulted on break point at 3-3 in the fifth.

    We all know what happened from there.

    Though he cruised past Soderling with ease in the final, Fed and his fans escaped a nail-biter in the semis. 

    In a career defined by so many effortless displays of dominance, one of Federer's most important wins was a war.  

Number 23: February 2, 2004, Federer Becomes No. 1 for the First Time

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    On February 2, 2004, Roger Federer became world number one for the first time in his legendary career.  As impressive as the feat might have seemed back then, it's all the more impressive now that we know that Federer did not relinquish the ranking until August 18, 2008 - a staggering and record-breaking 237 week run in the top spot.

    And as always the case with Federer, he did it in style.  Federer actually clinched the number one ranking on January 30, 2004 when he beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in the Australian Open semi-finals.  But the ranking would not become official until the following Monday, the day after the 2004 Australian Open final.  

    Of course, Federer straight-setted Marat Safin in the final to earn his first Aussie Open title and second major. This all meant that Federer got to celebrate the monumental victory by becoming number one for the very first time when the clock struck midnight.

    It's a good thing Fed sealed the deal in Melbourne, too, as he admitted that the ranking would have rung hollow come Monday morning had he lost the final.

    But he won, capping another perfect moment in a near-perfect career.

Number 22: Federer's 6th WTF Victory (d. Tsonga 6-3, 6-7, 6-3)

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    You know this one was sweet for Roger for a number of reasons.

    First, it gave him a record sixth ATP World Tour Final title, one more than Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl.   Federer isn't shy about the fact that he likes etching his name into the record books.  He recently admitted that it's one of the reasons he still plays.  So passing two legends for the most titles at the tour's fifth most important tournament must have meant a lot to Fed.  You can tell the WTF is a big deal for Roger, he treats it like a mini-slam.  It was no surprise that he came close to tears in victory. 

    More importantly however, is that in winning the final he was able to reverse what had become a troubling trend in 2011: blowing big leads and losing in an excruciating fashion.

    The match began the same way as his previous two with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, with Roger serving well and racing out to an early lead.  He won the first set 6-3 and went up an early break in the second.  He even had a couple chances to go up a double break in the second and effectively clinch a straight set win, but Tsonga valiantly erased the opportunities, one with a drop shot winner.  Then Fed fans were treated to an unpleasant case of deja vu, as Roger tightened up while serving for the championship and was broken.  

    The subsequent tiebreaker was even more heart wrenching for the Fed faithful, as Roger squandered a 5-2 lead and let Tsonga back into things.  The Frenchman fought off a match point with a booming forehand winner, and soon took the set as Federer's first serve went AWOL at the worst possible time.

    The beginning of the third set was danger time for Roger, as he couldn't find his serve and had to grind his way through his first several service games.  Finally though, Tsonga wilted and Federer broke for a 5-3 lead before serving out the championship.

    Can you imagine how painful another blown lead in a big spot would have been for Fed?

    Thankfully for him and his fans we didn't find out, as Roger held his nerve and won his 70th title.

Number 21: Roger Sets Record for Most Consecutive Weeks at No. 1

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    On February 26, 2007, Roger passed Jimmy Connors for most consecutive weeks ranked number one. Connors had set the record with 160 straight weeks in the top spot between July 1974 and August 1977.

    And Federer didn't stop there, holding the number one spot uninterrupted until August 2008, extending his record to a ridiculous 237 consecutive weeks at the top of the sport.

    It's one of Fed's most impressive records, and one that many bring up when making the case that Federer is indeed the greatest ever.

    Roger won 10 majors in the stretch, which most consider to be the most dominant run in the history of the sport.

    Connors had held the record for 30 years.

Number 20: 4th Set Tiebreaker vs. Nadal, Wimbledon 2008 (w. 10-8)

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    It doesn't seem right that one of Fed's top moments could have come in a loss, but when it comes to the greatest match of all time, we'll make an exception.

    And it was the fourth set tiebreaker that made everyone realize that the 2008 Wimbledon final was turning into one for the ages.

    Rafael Nadal, trying to wrest the Wimbledon title from Federer for a third straight year, raced out to a two sets to love lead, and at one point seem destined to romp the champ right off of Centre Court.  But Roger's championship mettle kicked in just in time, as he clubbed an ace at 6-5 in a third set tie-break to send things into a fourth set.

    Little did the British crowd know that the best was yet to come.

    The tie-break at the end of the next set would one day be compared to the Borg-McEnroe 4th set 1980 Wimbledon classic.

    It had everything: changes in momentum, blown leads, set and championship points.

    A combination of remarkable defense and stubborn serving gave Rafa an early 5-2 lead, but he then left an opening for Roger with a double fault and a backhand error.  Federer quickly used a big forehand and service winner to create a set point, but Rafa baited him into a forehand error to tie things at 6.  After a Fed forehand error, Rafa had his first championship point, only to have it erased by a Federer unreturnable serve. Then, amazingly, Rafa hit one of the best passing shots ever seen—he was almost out of the picture!—to set up his second championship point, this time on serve.  Unbelievably, Federer hit an even more amazing passing shot, a backhand of a ball that was already behind him, to tie things at 8.

    Roger then hit a forehand winner to create another set point, which he converted when Rafa sent an error long.

    Federer screamed, the crowd went nuts, we had ourselves a fifth set.

    It still gives us goosebumps.

Number 19: The Tweener vs. Djokovic, 2009 U.S. Open Semifinal

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    It's no secret that Roger loves bringing the crowd to its feet with spectacular shots.  He seems to enjoy when others are awed by his greatness.

    There is no better example of this than Fed's between the legs winner against Novak Djokovic in the 2009 U.S. Open semi-final.

    The shot, in and of itself, was jaw dropping.  At 0-30, 5-6 in the third set, Djokovic thought he had done everything right to get back to 15-30.  He coaxed Fed to the net with a well-placed drop shot, and then perfectly lobbed Roger's response to the base line.  Federer was sprinting with his back to the net, and it seemed that he had only one, incredibly low percentage choice to go with: a full-speed tweener.  Of course, he hit it so perfectly that you would have though he had time to set up an easy forehand, sending a cross-court winner through his legs and past Djokovic.

    Sure, Novak played it a little too casually at the net, but how can you prepare for the impossible?

    More incredibly, the stroke of brilliance was almost expected from Federer, as NBC color commentator John McEnroe muttered "Not again" as Roger wound up for the blind stab.

    The crowd erupted, Dick Enberg yelled "Oh my!", and Djokovic smiled ruefully.  It was the stuff of legends.

    But even more impressive than the shot itself is the situation in which it came: it set up match point in a major semi-final!  It's almost silly to think that Roger pulled off a circus shot in such a big spot.

    In fact, Federer's stressed the importance of the match in labeling it his greatest shot ever.

Number 18: 2001 Victory over Pete Sampras at Wimbledon

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    Has there ever been a more appropriate passing of the torch moment than Fed's five-set thriller over Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001?

    Sampras had won 31 straight matches at the All England Club and 56 out of 57.  He was going for his fifth straight Wimbledon title, having not lost there since 1996.  He had never lost a five-setter at Wimbledon.

    Federer on the other hand, was only 19 and appearing on Centre Court for the very first time.  Though he had won a Wimbledon junior title, he was still two years away from winning his first major.

    The match was tight and tense, with each set decided by a single break or tie-breaker.

    Federer flashed the ability that would soon make him a legend.  He served big, volleyed brilliantly, and hit winners from all over the court.

    When Sampras netted a backhand to give Fed the first set breaker 9-7, the crowd buzzed anxiously.  But Fed's nerve got the best of him on set point in the second, as he sent an easy put away volley into the net. Sampras screamed and it seemed that order had been restored.  Sampras though, soon returned the favor, mailing an overhead smash long to give Fed a break at 4-4 in the third.  Fed served it out and an upset seemed in the making.  Sampras again bounced back however, as the fourth set predictably headed into a tiebreak.  He served ruthlessly in the breaker and cruised to a 7-2 victory.

    It was fitting that the match would go five.  

    The fifth was incredibly tense, with each man holding onto their serve as if their life depended on it.  At times it seemed like an Isner/Mahut-like marathon was in the making.  Both men were just serving so well.

    But Federer finally broke through at 6-5 in the fifth, putting together one of the better return games ever seen. He started off by whacking a backhand return winner, and crushed another return winner on his first match point.

    He dropped to his knees in jubilation, it almost seemed like a final.  In many ways, it was even more significant.

Number 17: 2011 French Open Semifinal Win vs. Djokovic

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    Again, it's odd to think that one of Fed's career highlights came in a tournament that he didn't even win, but his semifinal victory over Novak Djokovic at the 2011 French Open was a classic.

    It's been written many times but it's worth repeating: never has there been a more partisan crowd in a non-Davis Cup match.  You would have thought that Roger was born and bred in Paris with the way the French crowd supported him.  Every time that Roger won an epic rally—which was often—the patrons at Philippe Chatrier Court let out a monstrous roar.

    The win ended Djokovic's 43-match win streak and perfect season.

    The first set was a high-level, back and forth affair, with both men earning two breaks en route to a tie breaker.  Roger won a magical point at 1-1 in the breaker with an overhead smash, sending the crowd into a frenzy.  But Djokovic fought back and even led 5-4, before committing three straight errors and giving Federer the set.  Paul Annacone leapt to his feet and you could see Fed's belief growing.

    Roger then played a masterful set in the second, winning 6-3 and threatening to run away with the match.

    But as was the case so often with Federer and Djokovic in 2011, the Serb got better and stronger as the match went on.  He took the third set and even served for the fourth set before Roger broke with a superb return game to send things into a breaker.

    The fourth set tie-breaker is one we'll remember for a long time.  Fed started brilliantly with drop shot and forehand winners that rocked Philippe Chatrier.  But Djokovic wouldn't let him pull away.  Down three match points, he won two points on serve to pull within 5-6, and Fed fans everywhere were petrified.

    Would Djokovic break Fed's heart again?  Can he really win the calendar slam?

    It took Fed one swing of the racquet to answer, "No".  He hit an ace.

    Fed waved his finger and the French went ballistic.

    It was the high point of a down year for Federer. 

Number 16: 2007 Australian Open Title (d. Fernando Gonzalez 7-6, 6-4, 6-4)

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    Federer's 2007 Australian Open championship stands out for a few reasons.

    First, it was Fed's tenth major victory, making him the fifth man to win double digit slams.

    Second and more importantly, it was the first time that Roger went through a major without dropping a set.

    However, things weren't as easy as they sound for Federer in the final against Fernando Gonzalez.  Gonzalez played a brilliant return game to break at 4-4 and serve for the first set.  He even went up 40-15 in the next game, creating the only two set points that Roger faced in the tournament.

    But as he's done so many times, Fed pulled a Houdini act.  He hit a beautiful volley winner at 15-40, and then prompted a Gonzalez error with a deep return at 30-40.  Federer would soon break and the set would go into a tiebreaker.

    Roger ran away with the tiebreaker and then turned into the Fed Express for the remainder of the match, finding his forehand in due time for a straight sets masterpiece.

    Roger's dominance seemed destined to continue for another year.

Number 15: 2006 Australian Open Title (d. Baghdatis 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2)

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    When Federer won the 2006 Australian Open, he became the first man to win three consecutive majors since Pete Sampras in 1993-1994.

    But the most noteworthy aspect of Roger's triumph over Marcos Baghdatis is how close it was.

    The Cypriot came out unconscious and truly had Roger on the ropes for a bit.  After the two exchanged breaks in the first, Fed played a sloppy game at 5-6 to drop his serve and the set.  Baghdatis quickly broke again in the second, and even had chances to go up a double break soon after.  Trouble time for Roger.  But the underdog finally cracked and allowed Roger to hold.  They proceeded to 5-5 in the second, when Fed finally decided he had seen enough.

    He romped his way to eight straight games and ran away with the match.  As one-sided as the scoreline looked, it was tough goings for Roger until the end of the second set.  In many ways, this match is reminiscent of Fed's comeback win over Nikolay Davydenko at the 2010 Australian Open.  Down a set and a break and things looking bleak, Federer abruptly turned things around and won convincingly.

    It was Federer's seventh major victory.

Number 14: 2006 U.S. Open Title (d. Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1)

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    Roger Federer's 2006 U.S. Open title was a historic one.  

    It marked his ninth career major title, pushing him past the logjam of Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall and Fred Perry, all of whom have eight.

    It also marked the second time in three years that Fed won the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open in the same year.

    With legendary pal Tiger Woods in the audience, Federer gave yet another master-class U.S. Open performance, serving brilliantly, defending superbly, and blasting winners left and right.

    But maybe the most remarkable thing about this match, looking back, is how well his opponent Andy Roddick played.  Andy pummeled ground strokes the entire match, even dictating play for long stretches.  It truly took Fed's best to triumph, and you almost felt bad for Roddick considering how well he played.

    Anyone who claims that Roger dominated a weak era, or thinks that Roddick was a cupcake rival for Roger, should go back and watch this match.

    It was a very high level affair, with an all-time great needing his best tennis to prevail.

Number 13: 2005 Wimbledon Title (d. Roddick 6-2, 7-6, 6-4)

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    Also file this one under "Poor Andy Roddick".

    Federer won his third straight Wimbledon title in top-flight form with a straight sets win over Andy Roddick in the 2005 final.

    This one is also considered one of Roger's very best performances.

    His movement is what stands out most about this one, as Fed danced around Centre Court with never before seen grace.  His backhand was also something to behold, producing unbelievable passing shots on balls that were already behind him.  Of course, his serve and forehand remained steady.

    Again, credit Roddick for a fine performance.  While Federer's genius 15 winner/1 error first set would have sent most running for the hills, Andy stayed game, breaking in the second set and forcing a tiebreaker.  But Federer was just too good at the important moments, hitting insane winners and passing shots to get through in straight sets.

    It was an elite performance that Fed fans will remember fondly for years to come.

Number 12: 2004 Australian Open Title (d. Safin 7-6, 6-4, 6-2)

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    There are several reasons that Fed remembers the 2004 Australian Open with fondness.

    First, it was only his second major title, and Roger surely relished the fact that he was able to back up his 2003 Wimbledon title in short order.

    Second, Federer officially achieved the world number one ranking for the first time the day after he beat Marat Safin in the final.  He had clinched the ranking by drubbing Juan Carlos Ferrero in the semifinal.

    Third, he conquered long time tormentor Lleyton Hewitt earlier in the tournament, tilting the scales of their rivalry for good.

    Federer used a familiar formula for success in the final: he raised his level in a first set tiebreaker to squeak out an early lead and then spent the next two sets dominating a demoralized and tired opponent.

    You could see the belief fade from Marat Safin's body about midway through the first set breaker, and the tall Russian seemed to throw in the towel after that.  After the match, Safin admitted fatigue after taking an arduous road to the championship match.

    All in all, it was an emphatic display from Federer, who announced to the world that he was now the best.

Number 11: 2005 U.S. Open Title (d. Agassi 6-3, 2-6, 7-6, 6-1)

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    You could tell Federer enjoyed his 2005 U.S. Open championship win over Andre Agassi.

    In fact after the final, Fed declared his sixth slam trophy the most special of his career, stressing the legendary venue and opponent.

    Roger's second U.S. Open title didn't come easy, as the 35 year old Agassi put forth a shocking amount of resistance.

    After it took Fed a startling eight set points to win the first set, Agassi broke twice in a convincing 6-2 second set.  He then went up a break in the third, causing delirium throughout Arthur Ashe Stadium.  However, Federer broke back quickly and after squandering four break points in the eleventh game of the set, Roger turned it into hyperdrive in the third-set tiebreaker, prevailing 7-1 with a barrage of winners.

    That sucked the life out of Agassi, who went down meekly in the fourth and final set, as Federer put on a show for the New York crowd.

    As Federer bagged his sixth major at the age of 24, rumblings began about his potential place amongst the all-time greats.

Number 10: 2004 Wimbledon Title (d. Roddick 4-6, 7-5, 7-6, 6-4)

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    Aside from their marathon five set classic in 2009, you have to figure that the 2004 Wimbledon final was Andy Roddick's best chance to beat Federer and win a championship at the All England Club.

    Roddick came out firing and put Fed on his heels in this one.  He won the first set 6-4.

    Roddick, however, started the second set very poorly, affording Federer a 4-0 lead and some breathing room.  Roger would need all the room he could get, however, as Roddick stormed back to break twice, before Fed finished things off with a forehand to tie things at a set apiece.

    Roddick would not be deterred though, as he again pressured Federer into an early break in the third.  However, luck always seems to favor the greats—Roger was given a momentary reprieve as the skies opened up and forced a second rain delay in the third set.  This allowed Federer to gather himself, and he eventually broke back and forced a crucial tie-break.

    As he almost always does against Roddick, Federer found his best tennis for the big breaker, and cruised 7-3 on the strength of multiple backhand winners.  Incredibly, this tie-break was really the only time in the match where we saw vintage Federer, as Roddick dragged Roger below his normally flawless form with relentless pressure.

    Thanks to some timely serving, Federer fought off what seemed to be a hundred break points early in the fourth, and eventually used yet another backhand winner to break and seal the match.

    Federer again collapsed in joy as he converted championship point, overwhelmed by winning his second straight Wimbledon trophy.

Number 9: 2010 Australian Open Title (d. Murray 6-4, 6-3, 7-6)

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    This was another sweet one for Roger.

    He added an insurance slam to his record, bounced back after a devastating loss to Juan Martin del Potro in the 2009 U.S. Open final, and proved once again to his critics that he was, indeed, far from done.

    On top of that, he got to deny Andy Murray his maiden slam for a second time in straight sets, and we all know that Fed is no big fan of the Scot.

    This was really one of Fed's most solid slam performances.  It seemed as if he had learned from taking del Potro a bit too lightly in New York a few months prior, as he remained uber-focused throughout.

    There was no fist pump when he won the first set, no "come on" when he served out the second under pressure.  The cameras even picked up a great shot of Fed staring Murray down intently while the Scot threw one of his on-court tantrums.  It was almost as if Fed was taking notes.

    His serve stayed pretty steady throughout, and he did not suffer the lapse of concentration that has come to plague him at many times over the past few years.

    But the story of the match was Fed's backhand.  It had been a long time since Roger dominated with his weaker stroke the way he did in Melbourne that night, committing very few errors and whacking several surprising winners.  It was clear that Murray had planned to take the Rafa route and force feed Fed shots to his left early and often, but Roger showed everyone that you better have the spin and power of Rafa if you hope to kill him with that sort of monotony.

    The third-set tiebreak was a classic, ending 13-11 in Fed's favor.  Murray gave everyone a glimpse of why he's still slam-less, missing two very makeable shots on set points.  Roger gave everyone a glimpse of why his fans have aged a lot over the past couple years, missing a forehand passing shot by inches on his first championship point and attempting an insane drop shot on his second.

    Murray finally cracked with an error into the net on Roger's third championship point, and Fed raised his arms to the air as he won his 16th slam.

    Even if Federer never wins another major, this will be a nice way to go out.

Number 8: 2007 U.S. Open Title (d. Djokovic 7-6, 7-6, 6-4)

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    Unbelievably, this is the only time that Federer and Novak Djokovic have ever met in a slam final.

    You'd have to figure that Fed would have savored this one even more than normal had he known the pain Djokovic would end up causing him at Flushing Meadows.

    This one was painful for Djokovic.  Nole was appearing in his first major final, and boy did it show, as he squandered a total of seven set points over the first two sets, dropping both to a sloppy but clutch Federer.

    The first set will no doubt haunt Djokovic, as he held five set points on his serve at 6-5.  Djokovic errors and Federer winners erased all of them, and Roger broke back to force a tiebreaker.  Djokovic completely fell apart in the breaker, hitting errors and double faults galore.

    It was a similar story in the second, with Federer saving two set points on his serve at 5-6, and then utterly dominating the tie-breaker.

    Djokovic blew a few more break points in the third before it was all said and done, finishing 2-9 on the priceless return opportunities.

    It was the twelfth major for Darth Federer, who sported an ominous all-black outfit for the tournament.

Number 7: 2004 U.S. Open Title (d. Hewitt 6-0, 7-6, 6-0)

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    Federer's double-bagel of rival Lleyton Hewitt in the 2004 U.S. Open final firmly cemented his status as world number one.

    He smoked Hewitt in just 18 minutes in the first set and again held the Aussie scoreless in the third set.

    Hewitt's brief moment of hope came late in the second set when he broke late and forced a tie-breaker.  Federer of course, regained his level for the breaker and put the match away in short order.

    The win made Federer the first man to win his first four slam finals, and it capped his first three major year.

    Federer must have relished dismantling his rival for the title, as many had expected a tighter match with Hewitt having won 18 straight sets to get to the final.

    But once again, Roger was too good.

Number 6: 2006 Wimbledon Title (d. Nadal 6-0, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3)

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    You know Roger holds both of his major final triumphs over Rafael Nadal in high regard, as he's been unable to tally a third one time and again.

    But 2006 was still firmly within Federer's reign, and he proved it by dispatching his fearsome challenger in four tight sets at SW19.

    In typical fashion, Federer raced out to a quick lead, losing only 12 points in the first set.

    He then came back from a break to win the second 7-6, yet again displaying flawless form in the tiebreaker.

    Nadal of course, would not lay down, playing brilliant defense and summoning other-worldly passing shots en route to a third-set tie-break victory.

    Federer though, restored order with two quick breaks in the fourth, and after losing serve on his first chance to clinch the title, he closed things out at love while serving at 5-3.

    The title was Federer's fourth in a row at Wimbledon, and he extended his grass court winning streak to 48 matches.

    Though Rafa had yet to reach his peak, he was still a load for Federer to handle.  Nadal had won six of seven meetings with Federer heading into the match, and showed glimpses of how he would eventually dethrone the Swiss great in his third set comeback.

    Beating Rafa in a final at Wimbledon has to be one of Roger's finest achievements.

Number 5: 2008 U.S. Open Title (d. Murray 6-2, 7-5, 6-2)

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    While Roger Federer's thrashing of Andy Murray in the 2008 U.S. Open final may have lacked drama, it did not lack significance.

    Roger was in the midst of the toughest year of his career since since his ascension to the top of the sport in 2004.

    He was swept out of the Australian Open by a red hot Novak Djokovic and embarrassed by Rafael Nadal at the French.  His chance at redemption fell cruelly short at Wimbledon also, as he lost what many consider to be the greatest match of all time to Rafa in the final.

    How would Roger react to getting knocked off of his lofty pedestal?

    By winning his 13th slam, that's how.

    A ruthlessly aggressive Fed pushed Murray around in a one-sided Monday final, trouncing the Scot out of his first slam final appearance rather quickly.  Murray's style of junk ball was no match for an in-form, redlining Federer, who was going for it all on almost every shot.

    The match was never in doubt, and Federer beat back one of his most dangerous young challengers pretty viciously.

    The win salvaged a disappointing year for Roger, as he crept to within one slam of Pete Sampras' record. 

    Who knows if Roger would have ever surpassed Pistol Pete if he lost this match and finished 2008 slam-less.

    Either way, the 2008 U.S. Open is one of the gutsier performances of Fed's career.

Number 4: 2007 Wimbledon Title (d. Nadal 7-6, 4-6, 7-6. 2-6, 6-2)

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    Roger's five-set triumph over Rafael Nadal in the 2007 Wimbledon final remains one of his greater moments.

    By winning, he equaled Bjorn Borg's record of five straight Wimbledon titles.

    Further, he took on an increasingly developed Rafa and was the last man standing after a near-four hour battle.

    Rafa again showed the mettle that has made him an all-time great.

    He withstood a flawless first set from Federer and fought back to even things at a set apiece with a break at 5-4 in the second.

    Then after losing his second tie-break of the match against a near perfect Federer in the third, he dominated the fourth set with shocking power and speed.

    Things got even scarier for Federer in the fifth, as Rafa earned two break points in each of Federer's second and third service games, only to see Federer bat them away with courage.

    Roger somehow held his nerve and served it out after earning a couple breaks, but the message had been sent.  Roger's days of owning Rafa at Wimbledon would soon be over.

    Nadal bothered Federer over a full five sets, making dents in his game that no one else had been able to muster for the past three years.  Federer even lost his cool when arguing a Hawkeye ruling in the fourth set.  He knew Nadal was a threat.

    Taking an almost in prime Nadal's best shot and standing tall in a five-set Wimbledon victory has to be one of Federer's greatest achievements.  After all, its the last time he's been able to beat the Spaniard at a slam.

Number 3: 2003 Wimbledon Final (d. Philippoussis 7-6, 6-2, 7-6)

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    Roger Federer has always spoken of his 2003 Wimbledon victory in glowing terms, and rightfully so.

    After all, it was his first major victory, and it came at his favorite tournament.

    Until then, many had wondered if Roger would ever harness his amazing talents and realize his potential.  After winning Wimbledon as a junior, questions began to emerge about Federer's mental makeup.  He had never made it past the quarter-final of any major, and seemed to have trouble picking the right shot at the right time, often getting confused amidst his diverse arsenal.

    People also questioned whether Federer could control his emotions throughout an entire pressure-packed fortnight.

    But Federer answered all of the questions resoundingly with a straight set victory over the unseeded Australian Mark Philippoussis in the final.

    He served brilliantly, volleyed effectively and often, was killer from the baseline, and even neutralized Philippoussis' big serve adeptly.

    Federer, scraped by a tie-break in the first, dominated the second and controlled another tie-break in the third after squandering some break point opportunities at 5-5.

    Federer collapsed to the English grass upon sealing the victory, and the tennis world has not been the same since.

Number 2: 2009 Wimbledon Title (d. Roddick 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14)

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    Again, poor Andy Roddick.

    Federer tortured his rival at Wimbledon again in 2009, winning a five-set final at 16-14 in the final set.  It is considered to be one of the greatest matches of all time.

    In doing so, Federer won his sixth Wimbledon and passed Pete Sampras in the all-time slam count, tallying number 15.

    This one was cruel for Roddick.  The American was much sharper than Fed from the baseline, often outlasting him in long rallies.  His serve was almost unbreakable, as Roger toiled for hours on end without breaking even once.

    It was also a pretty sloppy Federer for the most part.  There were several shanks, netted balls, and poor returns.  Roger seemed asleep for most of the first two sets.

    But just Roddick's luck, he finally gets Federer on a bad day, and Fed somehow manages a career-best 50 aces to thwart yet another game challenge by the American.

    The match had two turning points.  The first, as we all know, came in the second set tiebreaker.  Roddick had dominated the first two sets, and held four set points to go up two sets to love.  Fed flicked a pretty backhand winner and then held his nerve on serve to force a pressure-packed serve at 6-5 from Roddick.  This is the point that Andy wakes up sweating to: he controlled the point and set up an easy backhand volley for a commanding lead in the match, only to botch it wide. 

    Fed then put a passing shot at Roddick's feet to set up his own set point on serve, and a Roddick error long gives Roger the set. 

    Fed screamed in relief, the crowd exploded—the champ was still alive.  This stuff will give you chills.

    Kudos to Roddick for somehow bouncing back and winning the fourth set after Fed won another tie-breaker in the third.

    The fifth was a battle of attrition, each man holding serve with their fates on the line over and over again.  Then came the second most important of the match.  A brilliant backhand winner from Roddick gave him two break points at 8-8 in the fifth.  Only this time, he did nothing wrong to lose his opportunity.  Fed crushed a first serve and finished the point off with a brilliant swinging volley to save the first, and then hit another first serve for a winner on the second.  He would hold.

    14 games later, Roddick was finally broken, for the first time in four hours, and the match was over.

    Federer did it again.  For the 15th time, somehow.

Number 1: 2009 French Open Title (6-1, 7-6, 6-4)

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    The clay.

    The rain.

    The tears.

    The French crowd.

    Jimmy Jump.

    Can it get any more epic than Fed finally achieving the career slam and tying Pete Sampras' major record in one swoop?

    Has there ever been a better clutch serving display than Fed's in that second set tie-break?

    Can you imagine how Roger even served this one out, while shaking and fighting back tears?

    This isn't just an all-time tennis moment, its an all-time sports moment.

    No matter who you root for, you had to tip your cap as Fed fell to the clay on that rainy Sunday morning.  He never gave up, and finally landed his Roland Garros trophy.

    He defeated Robin Soderling in straight sets.