Sunday, July 12, 2009

Roger Federer - a quick note

While I was away on holidays Roger Federer won Wimbledon. Normally I would do a post on the match and etc etc. Since it is now a week ago, I won't bother, but I'll just make this one note.

Federer in getting to the semi finals of this tournament extended his semi-final streak in Grand Slams to 21 tournaments - well in excess of the best anyone else has done (Nadal once did 5 in a row). In getting to the final he also became the only player to play in all 3 Grand Slam finals this year (The Australian, French and Wimbledon).

But get this, he is also the only player to have reached the semi-finals of all three tournaments - so while he is now up to number 21 in a row, no one else this year has been able to get to 3! (Roddick is the only other player to get to two of the semis)

But get this, he is also the only player to have made the quarter-finals of each of the three Grand Slams. (Roddick, Del Porto and Djokovic are the only others to have played in 2 of them).
That is a stat that shows a man well out in front.

He lost the Australian Open in 5 sets to Nadal, in a match in which he served as poorly as he has in just about any match - his first service percentage was only 52% compared to 59% in the 2008 US Open final, 66% in the French Open and 64% in last week's Wimbledon. In the second set of the Australian Open final (which bizarrely, he won) he only served 37%!

So he wasn't that far from being on track for a Grand Slam. Not bad for a guy who many were writing off at the start of the year. (I like this from The Times after the Australian Open - There is now almost an inferiority complex when he stands next to Nadal and the flood of tears that delayed his runner-up speech almost suggested a knowledge that his truly great days are over.)

That Nadal wasn't at Wimbledon is irrelevant. They play sport -being physically able to front up is part of the game. The history of sport is littered with "if onlys". The greatest 800m runner of all-time, Wilson Kipketer, tore his calf muscle 2 months before the Sydney 2000 Olympics. He overcame it, but it robbed him of his usual finishing speed, and he came second in the final that was won in a time 4 seconds slower than his world record, and by a guy whose best time wasn't within 3 seconds of Kipketer's world record. But that's sport. (It doesn't mean though that it doesn't suck - I was in the Olympic Stadium that night, and I was shattered - Kipketer was my favourite athlete)

This September, Federer will be going for 6 US Open wins which will put him 1 ahead of Connors and Sampras (except he is the only one to win the 5 consecutively). If he does that he will have won both Wimbleon and the US Open more times than anyone else. Amazing.

So put down your glasses. He is the best ever. He talks about being able to play till he is at least 30 - so that's at least 4 more years of joy - appreciate it while you can.

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