In 2004, Roger Federer topped the world tennis rankings and began an unprecedented reign of 237 weeks as number one. Since then, other superstar players have emerged, including Federer’s famous rival, Rafael Nadal, and most recently Novak Djokovic. Although Federer is still an active player at a high level, his accomplishments so far have already earned him the title of the Greatest Player of All Time.
This era of tennis has been sensational to watch. A large part of the reason is simply Federer’s grace and playing style. On the court, Federer glides around effortlessly and makes fantastic shots. As Todd Woodbridge once said, “Tennis is a beautiful sport and its greatest beauty is Roger Federer's play.” Off the court, Federer is a humble and classy humanitarian who was ranked second in a recent survey on the most trusted and respected people in the world (behind Nelson Mandela). These two factors have done a great deal in drawing many new spectators toward tennis, including myself.
For me, however, one of the most interesting things about Federer and his era is simply watching him shatter records. In mid-2009, he broke Pete Sampras’s record for most Grand Slam titles, a highly regarded metric of success. However, this only scratches the surface of what Federer has done. For someone interested in statistics and records, it’s fascinating to know whenever Federer steps on the court, he might be breaking another record.
My favorite statistic about Federer’s career, which illustrates how truly dominant and unique his era is, would be the number of successive Grand Slam finals. The old record was four, set by Andre Agassi. Federer’s own streak was cut in half by his semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic in 2008 in Australia. How long were the two resulting streaks? Ten and eight.