Many believe Roger Federer is the greatest of all time, and that he will never be dethroned.
Federer is a 34-year-old world No. 2, incredibly playing some of his best tennis in the twilight of his career. His shot-making, poise, and grace place him in a class above the rest. He holds the record for most Grand Slam titles, with 17. Last week, we explored why Novak Djokovic will eventually surpass that mark.
This week, let’s play devil’s advocate and look at six reasons why Roger Federer will be known as the greatest tennis player of all time.
Self-explanatory. Roger has the most Grand Slam titles by a long shot – the closest competitors are three behind. It seems close, but think again. A couple players with ONLY three Grand Slam titles, Arthur Ashe and Gustavo Kuerten, were no slouches.
To be a consistent force in Grand Slam events, a player must possess a deadly stroke so that they can exploit their opponent’s weakness. Luckily for Federer, his forehand is arguably the best ever seen in the men’s game. As soon as you think you have him, he busts out one of these:
Fivethirtyeight.com describes Elo as a ratings system (initially used in chess) that processes tens of thousands of tennis matches in order to rank players against their peers, predecessors, and successors. Beat a player and gain points; get beaten and lose points; and the number of points you gain or lose depend on how both of you were rated going into your match.
It’s true, Djokovic reached the highest Elo of all time earlier this year, but is that the best way to measure all time greatness? Greatness should be defined over your career – a place where Federer excels. Roger is nearly as good now as he was at his peak, and has actually improved over the last two years, giving him unprecedented levels of career value. His Elo is trending in a direction that has never been seen before.
Federer covers the court in a way other players cannot. His feet move without a sound and his head holds perfectly still, as if he is a predator hunting his prey. Two formers pros describe it best:
“When Roger is in full flight, he looks like he’s gliding,” the former No. 1 Jim Courier said. “Almost like he’s floating above the court.”
“It feels like you’re being squeezed,” said Justin Gimelstob. “It’s not just psychological. It’s literal. He’s shortening the court.”
A great serve is an invaluable weapon for a tennis player. For the men listed above, it makes you practically unbreakable. The men ahead of Federer, who owns an 88% hold rate, have some of the fastest serves of all time – most of them extremely tall (almost giant-like). This harms their movement and in turn, their return game. Federer has a precision serve, has a consistent return, and is only working to get better.
To stay at the top of any sport, you have to try new things, push your limits, and always look to improve. Federer is still doing this at age 34 (!) with his new SABR – Sneak Attack By Roger (lol) – technique.
Warning: do not try this at home.
Will he be the best of all time? It’s hard to bet against Federer, but only time will tell.