Is Roger Federer still the best tennis player?

Is Roger Federer still the best tennis player?

Is Roger Federer still the best tennis player?

As Swiss tennis star Roger Federer turns 40 on Sunday, talk of his retirement, his legacy and his place among the tennis gods is on the rise. Is he the greatest player of all time? That’s up to you to determine in a poll, after reviewing the cases of the top five (male) contenders.

Few things thrill fans quite like debating who is the best of the best in a particular sport. Marciano or Ali? Comaneci or Biles? Pelé or Maradona – Messi or Ronaldo?

In many ways, it’s an absurd exercise: advances in nutrition and technology – and the general level of professionalism – make it impossible and insignificant to compare sprinter Jesse Owens (1913-1980) and Usain Bolt (born in 1986), or between Swiss ski legend Vreni Schneider (b. 1964) and Lindsey Vonn (b. 1984).

When it comes to tennis, comparisons between eras are particularly difficult. Until 1968 and the beginning of what is called the Open era, professionals were not allowed to participate in the four Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon, US Open) . There was also the abandonment of wooden racquets in the early 1980s (Yannick Noah was the last male player to win a Grand Slam title with a wooden racquet, in 1983).

But let’s try the comparison anyway. For me, the five players in the running for the title of greatest player of all time are, in alphabetical order, Björn Borg, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rod Laver and Rafael Nadal. Yes, this list is obviously subjective – if you disagree, let me know below! Yes, how to define “the greatest”? The criterion that gets the most attention is the number of Grand Slam titles. I also took into account – to varying degrees – the weeks spent at the top of the world rankings, other records, the beauty of their game, their natural talent and their versatility.

Bjorn Borg

Borg (born 1956 in Stockholm, Sweden) first played for his country in the Davis Cup when he was 15 years old. When he retired, exhausted, ten years later, he had racked up eleven Grand Slam titles – six on the grass at Wimbledon and five on clay at Roland-Garros, showing a rare ability to play. ‘adaptation. He will also be remembered for his icy temper, for losing four US Open finals, for being one of the first top players to use a two-handed backhand, and for being one of the last to use a wooden racket.

Among his records (all records in this article refer to the Open era) are the best record of Grand Slam matches won (89.2%) and the nine Masters tournaments (82.8%). He also holds the best record of wins against the top ten in any tournament (71.3%). He holds the record for the number of consecutive matches won in a Grand Slam tournament (41 at Wimbledon) and the longest winning streak for all titles (ten) and all matches (49). Borg’s topspin groundstrokes and incredible physical form helped develop the style that dominates the game today. Who knows how many more titles he would have won if he hadn’t retired at 26?

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic (born 1987 in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, now Serbia) shares the record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles with Federer and Nadal and the most Masters titles with Nadal (36), but he holds many other records. Among these are the total number of weeks as world number one (331 in total) and the fact that he is the only player to have won all nine Masters tournaments (he has won them all at least twice ). He has appeared in at least six finals in each Grand Slam tournament, has accumulated the most points as world number one (16,950) and has the longest Grand Slam winning streak (30 games). He has a career-best win record (83.3%) and holds a record of head-to-head wins over Federer and Nadal.

Was Djokovic’s level of tennis in 2016 the highest ever? Ultimate Tennis Statistics thinks so.(which factors in the strength of opponents) puts it just ahead of the 1980 Model Borg. And for what it’s worth, it also tops its list of GOATsExternal linkGreatest of all Time ), just ahead of Federer. That said, he has never won a Grand Slam title without dropping a set, which Nadal has done four times and Federer twice. He is unloved by the public and some critics complain about his boring and robotic tennis. But thanks to his metronomic regularity, unparalleled agility and self-confidence, he is simply hard to beat. More Grand Slam titles – and violent tantrums – are to be expected.

Roger Federer

Federer (born 1981 in Basel, Switzerland) shares the record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles with Djokovic and Nadal and holds the record for consecutive weeks in first place (237). He holds many other records thanks to his consistency and longevity (he spent a record 958 weeks, or over 18 years, in the top 10, and was the oldest number 1, at 36) . He has won the most Grand Slam matches (369) and reached the most finals (31). He also won the season-ending ATP Finals (which bring together the eight best players of the year) a record six times, and is the maestro of tie-breaks (65.36% wins).

Some skeptics say opponents in several of his previous Grand Slam finals were weaker than opponents faced by Djokovic and Nadal, against whom Federer has a negative head-to-head record. (Losing to Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2019 despite two match points on his own serve must haunt him.) However, there is no doubting his popularity, as he topped the fan favorites chart of the every year since 2003. He has also won the Laureus World Sports of the Year five times – a record – and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award 13 times.

On the court, he is probably the most naturally gifted player there is, with a style that is graceful and fluid. He’s simply stunning to look at, and no one has such a track record. American writer and journalist David Foster Wallace wrote in 2006: “It’s the moments, watching the young Swiss play, when the jaw drops, the eyes bulge, and the sounds are emitted that bring the spouses of other rooms to see if you’re okay.”


Rod Laver

It is not easy to classify Rod “the Rocket” Laver (born in 1938 in Rockhampton, Australia), because he was banned from participating in all four Grand Slams between 1963 (when he turned professional) and 1968 (Open era). Despite this, he has won eleven titles and remains the only male player to have achieved the Grand Slam (winning all four Grand Slam titles in the same year). He even did it twice: as an amateur in 1962, then as a professional in 1969. If those missing five years were counted (when Laver was world number 1), 25 Grand Slam titles certainly seem possible.

So how did he do it? Laver was not tall (173cm), but he was strong, quick, adaptable and, like Federer, he could do anything: he could play a serve-and-volley game, but, when necessary, stay back and rely on aggressive groundstrokes. Laver was playing before my time and the few clips of him in action are disappointing compared to today’s game, which largely reflects the role played by more powerful racquets. That said, who am I to disagree with Federer, who saidExternal linkin 2017 that “Laver is the greatest player of all time”?

Rafael Nadal

Nadal (born 1986 in Manacor, on the Spanish island of Mallorca) shares the record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles with Federer and Djokovic, including an extraordinary 13 at Roland Garros, and the most Masters titles with Djokovic (36). Nadal is arguably the greatest clay-court player of all time. He has won 91.5% of the matches he has played on this surface, leaving everyone else in the red dust. His streak of 81 victories on clay is far ahead of those on grass (65) and hard court (56), both held by Federer. For many years he was in Federer’s shadow (he spent a record 370 weeks – seven years – as world No. 2), but he now has a better record (83.2%) than Federer (82%) and is second only to Djokovic (83.3%).

It is true that he has never won the ATP Finals (Federer has done so six times, Djokovic five), and some commentators have questioned his serve and volley, but his high-intensity groundstrokes topspin and his defensive qualities – not to mention his desire to win – make up for the perceived weaknesses. It might be power over beauty – her knees must be praying for her retirement – ​​but it’s hard to deny that it’s very impressive. For what it’s worth, he’s also graceful in defeat, which can’t always be said of Federer. If I had to choose one player to play a game to save my life – and if I could choose the surface – it’s obvious: it would be Nadal on clay.

Alright, it’s up to you. Vote in this poll and defend your point of view in the debate!

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