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Roger’s Records To Stand Test Of Time

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Roger Federer© Getty ImagesRoger Federer has set many records that may never be broken.

Like Mozart and Michelangelo, Roger Federer’s body of work ranges from exceptional to sublime. The Swiss has set multiple records that will likely stand the test of time. Below we look at 10 of Federer’s most amazing feats and quantify [with totally unscientific methodology!] the chances of the achievements being matched or topped during his lifetime.

Note: Story updated after 2010 Australian Open

1. Winning five consecutive titles at two different Grand Slam tournaments

About The Feat: Since the abolition of the Challenge Round [when the defending champion was automatically placed in the following year’s final] Federer is one of just four players to win the same Grand Slam tournament five consecutive years. [Tilden six at the US Open 1920-25; Emerson five at the Australian Open 1963-67 and Borg five at Wimbledon 1978-81]. But Federer is the only player in history to win two different Grand Slam titles [Wimbledon 2003-07 and US Open 2004-08] for five consecutive years.

Chance of Feat Being Topped: 1%


2. Winning 16 Grand Slam titles in the span of 27 majors

About The Feat: After going titleless in his first 16 Grand Slam tournaments, Federer has made up for lost time, winning 16 of his next 27. Beginning with his 2003 Wimbledon breakthrough, the Swiss has won more than 50 percent of the majors he has contested. In contrast, Pete Sampras won his 14 majors over a span of 45 Grand Slam tournaments.

Chance of Feat Being Topped: 2%


3. Reaching 18 of 19 consecutive Grand Slam finals between Wimbledon 2005 and Australian Open 2010

About The Feat: This record goes beyond consistency. It speaks to Federer’s unrivaled excellence at the pinnacle of the sport – the Grand Slams – and his ability to play his best under pressure and when it counts most. No other player has come even close to a streak of Grand Slam finals appearance like this – and no one likely ever will.

Chance of Feat Being Topped: 3%

4. Reaching 23 consecutive Grand slam semi-finals (or better) from Wimbledon 2004 to Australian Open 2010

About The Feat: To put this feat into context, Federer’s ongoing streak of contesting 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals is more than double the length of Ivan Lendl’s 10 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals reached – the next best streak. The last time Federer didn’t make the last four at a major was in 2004 at Roland Garros, when he was beaten by three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten in the third round.

Chance of Feat Being Topped: 3%

5. Winning 24 consecutive finals

About The Feat: In 2004 and 2005 Federer won 22 consecutive finals in which he appeared [in addition to winning his last two finals of 2003] for a streak of 24 straight finals won. That’s astonishing considering that Federer was going up against the second best player in each of those particular tournaments. In finals, you not only have to play well, you have to play clutch. Federer’s finals streak ended at the last event of 2005, the Tennis Masters Cup. Although he came into the tournament with an ankle injury, Federer led arch rival David Nalbandian two sets to love and later, in the fifth set, was two points from the title on his own serve before Nalbandian rallied to win a fifth-set tie-break. It was all down hill from there for Federer, who in 2006 lost in four finals (all against Rafael Nadal) and only won 12 titles :)

Chance of Feat Being Topped: 4%

6. Reaching all four Grand Slam finals in the same season three times

About The Feat: Only two singles players have ever reached all four Grand Slam finals in the same year: Rod Laver, who did it twice when he completed calendar-year Grand Slams in 1962 and 1968, and Federer, who did it a remarkable three times in the past four years. Considering also that Federer is the only man to reach all four Slam finals in the same year on three different surfaces (hard court, grass and clay), it seems even more unlikely that someone will top that feat in Federer’s lifetime.

Chance of Feat Being Topped: 4%

7. Three-year period of dominance

About The Feat: Between 2004-2006 Federer went on a tear that is unlikely to be matched during any future three-year period, compiling a 247-15 match record. His season records during that time were 74-6 (2004), 81-4 (2005) and 92-5 (2006). He won a stunning 34 titles, including eight Grand Slams, nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000s and two Tennis Masters Cup titles. Had he served out the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup final against David Nalbandian [instead of losing in a fifth-set tie-break] Federer’s season record that year would have been 82-3, the same as John McEnroe’s unrivaled match record in 1984.

Chance of Feat Being Topped: 5%

8. Holding the No. 1 South African Airways ATP Ranking for 237 consecutive weeks

About The Feat: Federer’s 237 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings (from 2 February, 2004 to 17 August 2008) is best contextualised by looking at the next best streaks: Jimmy Connors at 160 weeks, Ivan Lendl at 157 weeks and Pete Sampras at 102 weeks. Federer, who has been No. 1 a total of 268 weeks (as of 1 February, 2010), is now within reach of Sampras’ all-time (non-consecutive) record of 286 weeks at No. 1. [Federer has five times finished as ATP World Tour Champion, just one year shy of Sampras’ six finishes as year-end No. 1. But Sampras finished No. 1 six consecutive years - a separate feat that Federer, now 28, is unlikely to ever match.]

Chance of Feat Being Topped: 7%

9. Sixty-five consecutive grass-court match wins

About The Feat: Federer’s 65 straight wins on grass could so easily have ended at 39 when he saved four match points against Olivier Rochus in the Halle quarter-finals in 2006. But history shows that Federer scratched out a win and ultimately extended his record streak to 65 before he lost 9-7 in the fifth set to Rafael Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final. With modern-day grass-court tennis no longer favouring a dominant serve-volleyer like a Sampras, Becker or Edberg, it will be more difficult for one player to dominate on the surface and threaten Federer’s streak.

Chance of Feat Being Topped: 12%

10. Winning one Grand Slam title a year for eight consecutive years

About The Feat: By winning the 2010 Australian Open in January. The Swiss has now won at least one Grand Slam title for eight consecutive years, equaling the record streak of Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg. What are the chances that someone (other than Federer) will extend the record to nine or more seasons? It sounds a tough record to break, but Rafael Nadal is already riding a five-year streak. And despite his lapse at Roland Garros last year, the Spaniard is likely to be the leading contender for that title for many years to come, as well as at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, where he is a former champion.

Chance of Feat Being Topped: 25%

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