Wimbledon has come and gone, but it’s the same old story for Roger Federer. Well, kind of, it’s been a while since drinks but the Fed-Ex has firmly imprinted his name on the history books of Wimbledon, tennis, and sport in general.
His 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 win over Andy Murray gave him a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon crown, equal with Pete Sampras, and also moved him back to world No.1. It was his first major since the 2010 Australian Open and has reopened the debate about the Greatest Tennis Player of all Time or GOAT. (Side note: Regular goats have now become much more badass due to this abbreviation).
On the final itself, I think Murray played outstanding and really did himself and all of Great Britain proud. He won his first set in a Major final, which although it may seem like a small achievement, would be a huge confidence boost for the Scott, to take a set of Federer in a major final is a big stepping stone towards him possibly winning one himself further down the line. Even Fed said after the match he had no doubts that Murray could win multiple Majors.
For me, Federer IS, to put it simply, the best tennis player of all time. 33 consecutive grand slam quarterfinals and 30 semifinal appearances out of his last 33 speak for themself – it is such amazing consistency that may never be broken. Ever.
I think if Federer managed to claim even one more Major that will, or should, end all arguments about his status at the greatest player to grace our game. Let’s not forget that the guy is about to turn 31 and has two kids, which in my opinion gave Federer that extra something to perform infront of them. He had never won a Major with his kids present, and I’m sure it was a driving force behind his outstanding form. I do worry that maybe, just maybe, he will settle back now he has achieved that and start to drop off, but we will see.
A big argument against Fed is his losing record of 18-10 against his biggest rival Rafael Nadal. Sure, it is a glitch on his amazing career, but Nadal will also go down as one of the best in history, he already has 11 Majors and you wouldn’t back him to stop there.
My main argument is you can’t have a winning record against every single player, there has to be one or two who have some kind of edge over you. Without going into too much detail, I am sure Sampras has a number of players who did hold a winning record over him. Plus, for Federer, half of their matches have been played on clay, Nadal’s favourite surface. That’s a pretty big advantage.
A big argument I have also seen pop up is about the greatest athlete of all time, not just in tennis, and for me there are a couple of stand outs. Obviously Federer is up there, but Kelly Slater is one who seems to be missing from a few lists. He has won 11 ASP World Championships and he is both the youngest and oldest to win the event, at 20 and 39. That is a huge achievement across so many years and surely places him in the upper echelon of sporting achievements. International athletes such as Michael Jordan, Pele, Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali would be the favourites to choose the top five from, with a number of other athletes obviously very close.
Honestly though, I don’t think we can truly end the debate about Federer until he hangs up the racquets and we can reflect on his remarkable achievements. Until then, let’s just sit back and enjoy the ride.