Roger Federer has a very strong claim to be the greatest tennis player of all time. His career, however, is obviously in decline and his greatest rival ever is seemingly the stronger player at the moment.
But just how steep and final Roger Federer’s decline may prove to be is still up for debate.
They say the market always knows best and when it comes to the bookmakers, they seem to have Roger Federer’s number. Fed’s odds for major competitions have lengthened to levels which would have been completely unimaginable just a matter of months ago. So is it all over?
With Betway and others, Roger has been gradually moving out in the betting in all major tournaments, but there are signs that he’s absolutely determined to get back to his previous levels. In October 2013, Roger parted with his coach of six years, for example, which isn’t the sort of decision taken by a player who thinks his career is all over.
So maybe, just maybe, there’s a way back for Roger. And if he can reclaim anything like the kind of form he’s previously enjoyed, he would surely utterly cement his claim to have been the best player of all time. But even if he doesn’t achieve this (and it would be a heck of a tall order) he surely has the strongest claim to have been the greatest anyway; but will that last?
Certainly the basic stats back up Roger’s claim today. With 17 Grand Slam wins, he remains clear of his main rivals Pete Sampras on 14, with whom his career only briefly overlapped, and of course his great rival Rafael Nadal Grand Slam with 13 wins under his belt.
But whilst Nadal has been one hell of a competitor, eight of his Grand Slam wins have come on the clay at Roland Garros, which is, arguably, the most unique of the four surfaces involved. Federer, on the other hand, has competed in each of the big four finals of each Grand Slam tournament five times or more – which is an all-time record.
Then again, both players have won at all four tournaments at least once. However, Roger Federer also holds numerous other world records from the Open Era, including holding the world number one’s spot for 302 weeks in total – including a remarkable 237 consecutive weeks at the top between 2004 and 2008.
Perhaps the overriding consideration in awarding Roger Federer the title of the greatest of them all, though, has been the sheer presence of Rafael Nadal, in particular, during his career. In other words, just imagine what kind of stats the record books would have down for Roger Federer if Rafael Nadal hadn’t been around!
Then again – if Rafael Nadal, who is five years younger than Roger Federer after all, can go on to surpass his great rival’s record of 17 career Grand Slam wins – perhaps he will deserve the title of “greatest ever”; only time will tell.