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What makes Roger Federer the greatest man to play tennis?

Federer took his number of grand slam wins to 19.

TENNIS 16/07/17 20:56
What makes Roger Federer the greatest man to play tennis?

Roger Federer won a record eighth Wimbledon title by beating Marin Cilic 6-3 6-1 6-4 in the final on Sunday.

Federer’s victory means he pulls clear of Pete Sampras and William Renshaw, who are both tied on seven triumphs, in the all-time list of male Wimbledon champions.

Graphic of Roger Federer's run to the title
(PA Graphics)

Here, we look at why the Swiss is the greatest man ever to play the game.

Numbers

Federer has now won 19 grand slam titles, the most of any male player in history. He is four clear of Rafael Nadal, five ahead of Pete Sampras and has seven more than Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic. He has reached an all-time record 29 grand slam finals, 42 semi-finals and 50 quarter-finals. He is the only player to have won three different grand slams at least five times and his 302 weeks spent at world number one is the most of any man since the list began in 1973.

Longevity

Federer won his first grand slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, with his most recent, also on Centre Court, coming 14 years later. For comparison, Nadal’s major triumphs have spanned 12 years, Djokovic’s eight years, Pete Sampras’ 12 years and Rod Laver nine years. Federer has re-invented himself in 2017 after it looked like he had won his last grand slam at Wimbledon in 2012. He has adjusted his game and refreshed his body. The results are there for all to see.

Rivals

Not only has he won the most grand slam titles but Federer has done it during the greatest era of men’s tennis. He has had several rivals during his long career, starting with Leyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick but his fiercest rivals have been Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. Nadal and Djokovic, in particular, are unquestionably among the finest players of all time, with 27 major wins between them. Nine out of 10 of Federer’s grand slam final defeats have been against one of those two. In a less competitive era, Federer could have won even more.

Style

For all the statistics in Federer’s favour, his greatest legacy will be his majestic style of play. While Nadal, Djokovic and Murray are all to varying degrees exceptional defenders and brilliant from the baseline, Federer’s style has always been to attack. His eight Wimbledon titles are testament to his touch and creativity while Nadal’s emergence challenged Federer to win points from the back as well as the net. Federer’s elegance has won him fans all the world over. There is hardly a court on the planet where is not the home favourite.

Personality

Every champion has a talent on the court but not every one has carried their position with such class and dignity as Federer. The 35-year-old is immensely popular among competitors on both the men’s and women’s tour alike while his views on how to make the game better, whether it be on rules or more sensitive issues, are the most respected of any player past or present. He has been voted by the public as the most popular player on tour for the 14th time in a row. Win or lose, Federer is a class apart.

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