Federer can’t believe his 23 straight grand slam semis
Of all his countless achievements in tennis, even the remarkable Roger Federer can scarcely believe his latest accomplishment. Federer on Wednesday night advanced to his 23rd consecutive grand slam semi-final with an iron-willed four-set comeback victory over Nikolay Davydenko at the Australian Open.
“It’s incredible looking back on how many years that is now that I’m able to deliver at grand-slam play,” Federer said after rallying from a set and a service break down to snap the Russian’s own impressive 13-match winning streak with a 2-6-3 6-0 7-5 quarter-final triumph at Melbourne Park.
“Especially this year, I think, looking at the draw with Hewitt in the fourth round and Davydenko in the quarters, who has been on fire the last weeks.
“Even today we saw big signs of it, why he’s such a great player.
“So, for some reason, I was just a bit worried I was not going to make it this time to the semis. You always believe the streak is going to be broken.
“I stopped thinking about it after the second round on and just started focusing on the tournament.
“It helps once the tournament starts. You focus match for match and point for point, so I forget about the record.
“Now obviously that it’s safe again and I’ve been able to add one, it’s amazing.
“Definitely one of the most incredible things I have in my resume.”
Federer’s phenomenal run at the majors ranks alongside the likes of Lance Armstrong’s seven consecutive Tour de France wins, Michael Jordan’s seven NBA scoring titles on the spin, Edwin Moses’ 122 successive 400m hurdles victories, Steve Redgrave’s five successive Olympic rowing gold medals, Byron Nelson’s 11 straight PGA Tour titles, Tiger Woods’ 142 straight PGA cuts made and squash legend Jahangir Khan’s 555-match winning streak.
Federer’s record puts Rod Laver’s 12 straight semi-finals – either side of his grand slam exile from 1963-67 – and Ivan Lendl’s modern-era second-best 10 straight from 1985-88 into the shade.
Yet the Swiss freak is poised to achieve arguably an even greater feat on Friday, with success over either Novak Djokovic or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to catapult the 28-year-old into his 18th grand-slam final from the past 19 majors.
Federer’s victory also clinched the world No.1 ranking for a 268th week, matching Jimmy Connors – the pair now tied for third behind only Pete Sampras (286 weeks) and Lendl (270 weeks) on the all-time list of longest reigns.
Had he lost and Novak Djokovic repeated his 2008 triumph in Melbourne, the Serb would have seized top spot for the first time in his career.
Federer was halfway to the Melbourne Park exit gates after dropping the opening set and staring a double break in the face in the second set.
But the 15-times major champion barely blinked before reeling off 13 straight games – and winning 51 of the next 64 points in the process – to avert disaster against a confident foe who’d won their two most encounters over the past month.
“It was in a tough situation at 6-2, 3-1 down and 15-40 on my serve,” Federer said.
“I knew I wasn’t looking very good.
“But that’s the beauty of best of five sets. I wasn’t panicking, even though I maybe would have lost the second set had I lost another point there at that stage.
“But I just relaxed and thought, you know, maybe if the sun goes and his level drops just a little bit, the whole thing might change for the better.
“It did. I couldn’t believe the way it changed, but I’m happy the way I was able to go on an incredible run and get the cushion with the extra break at the beginning of the fourth.”
© AAP 2013
Great individual sporting streaks
* Roger Federer’s 23 straight grand slam semi-finals. (2004-10)
* Lance Armstrong’s seven consecutive Tour de France wins (1999-2005).
* Michael Jordan’s seven straight NBA scoring titles. (1987-93)
* Edwin Moses’ 122 consecutive 400m hurdle wins. (1977-87)
* Steve Redgrave’s five successive Olympic rowing gold medals (1984-2000)
* Byron Nelson’s 11 consecutive PGA Tour titles. (1945)
* Heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano retiring undefeated after 49 wins in 49 fights. (1947-55)
* Joe Dimaggio’s 56 consecutive baseball games with a hit. (1941)
* Tiger Woods’ 142 straight PGA cuts made. (1998-2005)
* Squash legend Jahangir Khan’s 555 match winning streak. (1981-86)
* Walter Lindrum’s record billiards break of 4,137 (1932)
* Herb Elliott never beaten over 1,500 metres or one mile (retired in 1961).
* Heather McKay’s 16 straight British Open squash titles. (1962-77)
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