Federer the champion rises and rises again

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    Roger Federer continued his comeback by winning Indian Wells. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

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    This time three years ago, Roger Federer was quite possibly the biggest name in world sport, having finished 2009 as world number one, making all four grand slam finals, winning his sixth Wimbledon title and finally clinching his first French Open.

    He started 2010 by winning his fourth Australian Open title, and the Federer juggernaut kept rolling…

    Then came the rest of 2010, a leaner year by Roger’s standards, only making the quarter finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and the semis at the US Open.

    2011 started the whispers that Federer’s reign at the top was on the slide, as he went the whole season without winning a Grand Slam, slipped to third in the rankings (yes, all the way down to third) and like a carcass on the Savannah, the vultures were circling.

    2012 was a stabilising year after Novak Djokovic dominated the world in 2011. Federer historically won his seventh Wimbledon title, passing Pete Sampras’ Grand Slam record in the process. This was the only Grand Slam final he made, but it held the wolves at bay and saw him get back to number two by the end of the year.

    2013 has started, and it’s hard to see him not winning an eighth Wimbledon title this year (early call I know).

    However we now have a Roger Federer who no longer towers over the rest of the field in these big tournaments. He has to work hard to beat the best players, he has to grit his teeth and get down and dirty to get the job done now.

    I’ve watched four of his matches this year, and I love seeing him have to be at his absolute peak to progress. He was such a quiet, humble athlete when he was dominating the sport, now he shows his aggression, he yells on court, he pumps himself up, and it makes for better tennis.

    He’s stepped his game up to compete with the young bucks coming through – Andy Murray, Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – and the real winner is tennis, and us spectators.

    Surely after this epic five set match against Murray, people have to sit back and say “hey, maybe he’s not done just yet?” Murray has thrown everything at him but the kitchen sink, yet four hours later we’re still going.

    I would love to see Federer get to 20 Grand Slam wins. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. But I’m sure no tennis player will ever break his record for Grand Slam wins.

    I guess the question is, don’t you love it when a champion is written off, and they come back and show they’re not done yet? I know I do…

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • Roar Guru

      January 26th 2013 @ 7:48am
      Rabbitz said | January 26th 2013 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      ‘cept he fell in the Aussie semi’s for third consecutive year…

    • January 26th 2013 @ 8:00am
      Johnno said | January 26th 2013 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      And he loses to Rafa more than he beats him in grand slams. And he can’t use the excuse he was past his best when losing to Rafa. He has been losing to Rafa consistently since 2008,, when Fed was only 27.
      And is now losing to Murray more often lost at the Olympics games final, now at OZ open. Novak is the man now.

      • January 26th 2013 @ 8:32am
        Eddard said | January 26th 2013 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        In the last 20-30 years or so most tennis players have begun to decline around 27/28. By the time they hit 30 they’re almost all retired or well out of the top 10. There have been very few exceptions.

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2013 @ 8:55am
        Turnover said | January 26th 2013 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        Novak is clearly the man Johnno. I doubt Roger dispute that.

        What point are you trying to make re: Rafa and Andy? Roger can still win another slam. Don’t get swept up in all the excitement, Roger never goes away, his most recent Wimbledon victory demonstrates that.

        You weren’t one of those people who though Rafa would win 20 slams were you?

        None of the current players will come near Roger in terms of slams won. Look how physical Novak is on court these days. He’s heading for a brick wall and fast.

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2013 @ 10:53am
        Cameron Kellett said | January 26th 2013 @ 10:53am | ! Report

        Johnno,

        In tennis all players have a kryptonite, Federer’s is Nadal and, when the history book is written for Federer, Nadal’s, name will be next to him. Federer is just that little bit better, if you disagree, go back in time, look at stats, then ensure you formulate a decent argument as to why Federer is not the greatest of all time.

        The key difference is the consistency of Federer compared to past players. When they get older they can produce scintillating tennis but at times would get it handed to them by future stars. Federer does not get it handed to him.

        Btw it’s the first time Murray beat Federer in a grand slam. correct me if i’m wrong.

        • January 26th 2013 @ 11:18am
          Johnno said | January 26th 2013 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          Your right kellet about that Federer losing to Murray for 1st time in grand slam. But the point is Rafa’s record in grand slams, is good vs everybody except now maybe Novak. Rafa has been injured the last 6 months he missed the Olympics too.
          Safin got under the skin of Fed but lacked the fitness too beat him over 5 set consistently.

          You could say Monica Seles was Steffi Graf’s kryptonite. But in saying that often kryptnite means, someone else comes along who is better. Monica Seles before her accident started to have the wood over Graf, and Graf was in her peak.

          Graf was born in 1969 , Seles in 1973, . Graf had already won 8 of her 9 majors before Seles 4 year younger won her 1st. as a 16 yr old at the french open in 1990 beating a 20 yr old Steffi Graf. Graf hardly past it at 20 lol.

          Seles surpassed Graf as the No. 1 player in 1991, and won seven of eight grand slam titles during the period of 1991–1993. Graf in the end did recapture the No. 1 ranking from Seles in June 1993, after Seles was forced out of the sport due to her stabbing.

          But look at that record from form aged 17-19.5 years of age, Monica Seles was on top of the World,. In grand slam finals they are 3-3 all.

          -But this is where it gets good and tilts in Seles’ favour.

          Grand Slam finals before 1993 stabbing, Seles leads 3-1 including beating graf as a 16 yr old at the French open 1990, and as a 17 yr old at the 1991 OZ open.

          -Graf beats seles 2wice in grand slam finals (1995,1996 US open), but after the stabbing in 1993. Seles was never the same player again after the stabbing she only won 1 more grand slam at 1996 OZ open. And she never reached no 1 in the world again after the stabbing.

          -But before the stabbing in Grand Slam finals Monica Seles 4 bearing in mind 4 years younger too, leads in grand slam finals 3-1 before the stabbing and was beating Graf since she was a teenager at 16 years of age, to Graf’s 20. Both tender age’s but just shows how talented, and how mature Monica Seles game was. And her 1991-93 record, just before her stabbing, dominate’s Steffi Graf and Seles was the world no 1 not Graf at the time of her stabbing.

          So for mine just as I think Rafa is better than Fed and he leads Fed in grand slam finals 6-2 that is a massive gap.

          And Seles was up 3-1 on Graf before her stabbing. Then Graf got 2 back but after stabbing and Seles was never no 1 again or the same player since that stabbing.

          So there you go Kellet, for all the reasons above I think Rafa and Seles, have it over Fed and Graf. Mixed doubles anyone lol. What a match that would be.

          • Roar Guru

            January 26th 2013 @ 11:31am
            Cameron Kellett said | January 26th 2013 @ 11:31am | ! Report

            A great example, and no disrespect but your comparing Womens tennis to mens. Mens tennis has always been more competitive. Federer has won 17 grand slams but has not always had it his own way having to compete with Hewitt, Safin, Roddick, Murray, Aggasi, Joker, Nadal and numerous others who step up along the way.

          • January 26th 2013 @ 11:55am
            Rory said | January 26th 2013 @ 11:55am | ! Report

            It’s a narrow criteria, using head to head like that. Everyone knows about Federer’s problem with Nadal, and the left handed crosscourt topspin forehand kicking high into Federer’s backhand corner. Most of the major finals were at the French. There is so much more that should be taken into account.

            • January 26th 2013 @ 2:44pm
              Johnno said | January 26th 2013 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

              he did lose to rafa at Wimbledon final grass in 2008, and the OZ open final grass 2009 to Rafa. An excuses for Fed, the fact is he did have shortfalls in his game, so one can’t use it as an excuse to justify he is better than Rafa.

              • January 26th 2013 @ 3:03pm
                dasilva said | January 26th 2013 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

                Federer is more likely to lose to Nadal

                HOwever Nadal is more likely to stumble in the early rounds of the open

                Not getting knocked out before reaching the final to face Federer is still part of being a great player.

                I also suspect that Nadal doesn’t have the body to have the longevity of Federer’s career

              • Roar Guru

                January 26th 2013 @ 4:43pm
                Cameron Kellett said | January 26th 2013 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

                Johnno,

                There is no denying the significant record Nadal has over Federer, but although he has this significant record which I am sure Roger wish he could overturn (but may never get the chance).

                Federer’s longetivity, total grand slam wins and time at world no. 1 are significant aspects which add to the legend that RF is.

                Rafa if haven’t been incurring as many injuries could be easily along Federer. There is no denying Rafa is one of the greatest and probably the greatest clay court player of all time and holds a 12-2 record over Fed on clay.

                It will be one of those debates that will rage for such a long time, but when it comes down to the overall aspect which is the career, Federer wins this battle. Nadal still has time to reduce this gap though.

    • Roar Pro

      January 26th 2013 @ 8:10am
      aggregated drupe said | January 26th 2013 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      And then you find out he lost…

    • January 26th 2013 @ 9:03am
      dcnz said | January 26th 2013 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      Age shall not weary them unless they are professional athletes……

      Its Novak time now! Hurry back Rafa, we miss you …

    • Roar Rookie

      January 26th 2013 @ 4:16pm
      Martyn50 said | January 26th 2013 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

      As much as I find Roger a fantastic player his time to win another major is drawing to a close. The joker is in fine form and will continue to be so for the next 5 years. Murray is about to be a top 4 player for many years to come providing he can control his head. Roger needs lower seeded players to knock ot some of the other big 4 to help him along. Remember he is 31.

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2013 @ 5:07pm
        Cameron Kellett said | January 26th 2013 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

        Martyn50,

        If lower seeded players were to start to knock off some of the big named players like Murray, Nadal, Joker and Ferrer, Tsonga etc. Wouldn’t this create more cause for concern?

        Thus providing a look into the future of Tennis as future youngsters start to rise. If Federer could beat the lower seeds rather than the top seeds, but the lower seeds beat the other top seeds for Federer, well this just creates a silly thought process in which people will try to justify why he is winning or why he is not.

        Federer’s time is drawing a close, I agree, but that is to be expected. Agassi and Sampras in their prime were almost unstoppable but then they get older, it is just part and parcel of sport, every sport. Just because he has lost to Murray who is heading into the prime of his career does need to create concern and diminish past achievements.

        Federer has been a great servant to the game of Tennis, for in the near future another crop of youngsters shall rise and Joke and Murray will experience the same problems.

    • January 27th 2013 @ 4:46am
      Delirium said | January 27th 2013 @ 4:46am | ! Report

      Nice piece. It is indeed absolutely amazing to behold the scope of Federer’s accomplishments and accumulation of records, particularly in an era of such fierce competition from players his own age and from players several years younger (Nadal, Murray, Djokovic, et al.) For me, the great “moment” was Federer’s surge to reclaim not only another Wimbledon title but the No.1 ranking after it seemed almost certain that he would never regain the top spot again. Blasting past Sampras’s record for weeks at No.1 (where he had previously been short by just one agonizing, taunting week!) was spectacular for the record books. No doubt about it. As for the increasingly shrill chatter about Nadal’s superiority as “a player,” I find the arguments usually overbaked, tellingly overwrought, and lacking in perspective and persuasion. Nadal is unquestionably the greatest clay court champion in men’s pro tennis history, but therein we also see a career record that merits an asterisk — at least in terms of how his head-to-head record against various players is viewed in the proverbial Big Picture. Nadal has a clay success-rate disproportionate to his success on other surfaces. He is a legendary specialist, but a specialist nevertheless. That reality will only be underscored in the coming years as he increases his cherry-picking of events to suit his physical deficiencies. Federer’s willingness to “take it” to Nadal on clay and put himself in so many finals against the Clay-GOAT is just one more reason to admire Federer’s championship resolve. His record against Nadal demands unique analysis and, overall, does not diminish his greatness. Again, this is only becoming more apparent as time marches on and the actual patterns of Nadal’s career are even more vividly highlighted and observed within the framework and context of his role as (primarily, but not exclusively) a surface specialist. That being said, his record is legendary even if it will never match the scope of Federer’s in terms of overall achievement.

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