A Look Back On Roger’s 20 Major Titles
Twenty Grand Slam titles! It's an achievement that has long been as unfathomable in men's tennis as it has been improbable. That is, until now. Since his first triumph on the lawns of Wimbledon in 2003, Roger Federer has been proving that anything is possible and the Swiss did just that once again on Sunday at Melbourne Park. Federer celebrated an unprecedented 20th major triumph, claiming the Australian Open title with victory over Marin Cilic.
ATPWorldTour.com opens the vault and looks back at the Swiss maestro's 20 Grand Slam victories...
(1) 2003 Wimbledon – d. Mark Philippoussis 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-6(3)
The year was 2003 and the men’s tennis landscape was in flux. Longtime standard bearer Pete Sampras retired the previous August after winning the US Open, and it wasn’t yet clear who would assume the reins and lead the ATP World Tour going forward. Fans did not have to wait long for an answer to become apparent: Roger Federer. It was apropos that it all began at The Championships. The Swiss’ reign over SW19 began on Day One, gliding over the pristinely cut lawns and launching his slender frame into his one-handed backhand.
The 21-year-old budding star had already proven himself on Centre Court with a stunning fourth-round upset over seven-time champion Sampras two years earlier. He would go one step further in 2003, brushing aside the competition at the All England Club. He relinquished just one set on his way to a first Grand Slam championship title match. His opponent: fellow Wimbledon final debutant Mark Philippoussis. Philippoussis had endured a much tougher path to the final and proved no match for Federer, who claimed his first taste of Wimbledon glory after just one hour and 56 minutes of play. It was only the beginning.
(2) 2004 Australian Open – d. Marat Safin 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-2
A precocious young talent with nerves of steel, 22-year-old Federer did not have to wait long for his second success at the Grand Slam level. Just over six months later, on the other side of the world, the Basel native lifted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup for the first time. Federer was taken to four sets in back-to-back matches by Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian to reach the semi-finals, before turning on the style against Juan Carlos Ferrero to book a final meeting with Russia’s Marat Safin.
An in-form Safin did well to upset top seed Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi in five sets en route to the final, however, Federer once again showed his class on the grandest of stages. He would clinch the title after two hours and 15 minutes, as a Safin forehand flew beyond the baseline. As a result of winning the tournament, Federer became World No. 1 for the first time in his career. And he would remain at the pinnacle for years to come. It was a position he would hold for a record of 237 weeks, until 18 August 2008.
(3) 2004 Wimbledon – d. Andy Roddick 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-4
Federer vs. Roddick in the Wimbledon final. It’s a phrase that conjures memories of epic encounters and it all got started on a brisk July afternoon in 2004. After a disappointing third-round loss to Gustavo Kuerten at Roland Garros, Federer cruised to his second Gerry Weber Open title in Halle and returned to the scene of his first Grand Slam triumph at the All England Club. Experiencing the role of defending Grand Slam champion for the first time, he dropped just one set – in the quarter-finals to former champion Lleyton Hewitt – en route to his second Wimbledon final.
Waiting for him there would be Andy Roddick. The big-serving American had just successfully defended his crown at The Queen’s Club, but faced a difficult test against his Swiss rival, having dropped five of their six previous meetings. The Wimbledon faithful were treated to a dream No. 1 vs. No. 2 championship clash and Roddick got off to a great start, becoming the first man to take a set off Federer in a Grand Slam final. But, ultimately, Federer would fight back, winning two tight sets before firing down a 12th ace out wide at championship point to lift the trophy and cement himself as the best player in the world.
(4) 2004 US Open – d. Lleyton Hewitt 6-0, 7-6(3), 6-0
Federer’s outstanding season would culminate with his first year-end No. 1 finish in the ATP Rankings. He secured the top spot with a third Grand Slam victory of the year at the US Open. Federer had never progressed beyond the Round of 16 when he entered Flushing Meadows in 2004, but made his way through to the last eight for the loss of just one set. In the quarter-finals, he met two-time champion Andre Agassi and the boisterous New York crowd would witness a thriller on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Agassi won four more points than Federer throughout the match, but fell to the World No. 1 in exactly three hours 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.
A convincing win over Tim Henman put Federer in his first US Open final where he would meet 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt came into the final in scintillating form, winning all six of his previous matches in straight sets but had no answer for the brilliance of Federer in the championship. The Swiss has only registered four bagel (6-0) sets in his Grand Slam final career and two of them came against the Aussie in the 2004 US Open title match. Federer became the first player since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win three Grand Slam titles in one season, and also the first in the Open Era to triumph in his first four major finals.
"Not even in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought I would win the US Open," he said. "If you can handle New York, you can handle anything."
(5) 2005 Wimbledon – d. Andy Roddick 6-2, 7-6(2), 6-4
Federer would pick up where he left off to start 2005, reaching the Australian Open semi-finals and winning 36 of his next 37 matches. He would succumb to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, in his first attempt to capture the career Grand Slam, but once again dusted himself off, scoring a third consecutive Halle crown to head to SW19 confident and hungry for a first major title of 2005.
It would be a repeat of the 2004 final in SW19 as he took on Roddick once again. The American had come through two five-set battles to reach his second Wimbledon final but the same script would be written against his great rival in the championship. Federer raced out to a 6-2 first set and swiftly navigated his way through a tie-break in the second before a rain delay halted proceedings. But, much to Roddick’s dismay, it did not stop the Swiss’ momentum. The two-time defending champion would not be stopped, sealing a hat-trick of Wimbledon titles after one hour and 41 minutes. He joined Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras as the only men to win three consecutive titles at the All England Club since World War II.
(6) 2005 US Open – d. Andre Agassi 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-1
Federer’s U.S. summer concluded with a sentimental four-set victory over Agassi, in what would be the American legend’s last Grand Slam final appearance. The Swiss entered Flushing Meadows in strong form, having secured his first of seven titles at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and he would carry the momentum all the way to the podium on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Federer successfully retained his US Open crown and became the first man in the Open Era to complete the Wimbledon-US Open double in consecutive years. He overcame four-set challenges from Nicolas Kiefer in the fourth round and Lleyton Hewitt in the semi-finals to reach his sixth Grand Slam final, where he would down Agassi in four tight sets to take the title. It marked the end of their memorable rivalry that included 11 clashes over eight years. Federer’s sixth major triumph tied him with Boris Becker and idol Stefan Edberg on the all-time list. And, most impressively, he extended his win streak in tour-level finals to a stunning 24 straight, which still stands as an Open Era record today.
(7) 2006 Australian Open – d. Marcos Baghdatis 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2
Federer’s win streak to open his Grand Slam final career will go down as one of his greatest achievements: seven wins and zero losses from Wimbledon in 2003 to the 2006 Australian Open. That is, seven victories over six different opponents, including four former World No. 1s. The last piece of the streak came in Melbourne Park in ‘06, where Federer kicked off what would go down as his most successful season with a second Aussie Open crown. The Swiss would navigate his way through possibly his toughest final route to date, dropping four sets in his last three matches to reach the final.
Federer would square off against a young Cypriot playing the best tennis of his career. Baghdatis surged to a set and 2-0 advantage and held points for a double break lead, but was unable to maintain the momentum. From that position, Federer would win 14 of the next 16 games to claim the title and become the first man since Pete Sampras in 1994 to win three consecutive Grand Slam crowns. An emotional Federer would be seen at the trophy ceremony as Rod Laver presented the Swiss maestro with his seventh piece of Grand Slam silverware.
(8) 2006 Wimbledon – d. Rafael Nadal 6-0, 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3
Later that season, Federer’s pursuit for the career Grand Slam and a first Roland Garros title were once again dashed by Rafael Nadal in Paris. The 20-year-old Spaniard got the better of the World No. 1 for the second consecutive year in the French capital and handed Federer his first loss in a Grand Slam final. Federer entered the gates of the All England Club 15 days later after another Gerry Weber Open triumph, on a mission to retain his Wimbledon title and become just the third man in the Open Era (Borg & Sampras) to win four consecutive trophies on the hallowed grounds of SW19.
The two great rivals would meet again in the final, and many could have mistaken the Centre Court grass for the terre battue of Roland Garros. It marked a turning point in their rivalry as a 20-year-old Nadal stepped up his game on the slicker surface, using his agility to rattle Federer. But, keen to defend his turf against his chief rival, the Swiss would not be denied. The first of what would be a classic trilogy of consecutive Wimbledon finals between the two gladiators was over after a tense two hours and 58 minutes.
(9) 2006 US Open – d. Andy Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1
A resurgent Roddick, with Jimmy Connors in his corner, had his backhand flowing up the line and his Hall of Fame serve putting opponents on notice. But Federer, who spoiled the hopes of home favourite Andre Agassi in 2005, ended U.S. hopes of a home-grown champion once again, denying Roddick a Grand Slam title for the third time. The Swiss dropped just one set entering the final, where he would upend the 2003 titlist after four gripping sets. With Tiger Woods cheering from his box, Federer was once again too clutch in the big moments and Roddick had no response. The Basel native improved to 11-1 in his last 12 matches against his rival and 3-0 in Grand Slam finals.
With nine major trophies, Federer moved into solo sixth place on the all-time list, passing Agassi, Connors and Ivan Lendl. He also became the first man in the Open Era to win three consecutive Wimbledon titles and US Open crowns. Federer would go on to post a career-best 92-5 win-loss mark in 2006, capping one of the most dominant campaigns in history.
(10) 2007 Australian Open – d. Fernando Gonzalez 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-4
Make that three in a row and 10 for his career. A 25-year-old Federer breezed past Chile’s Gonzalez in the 2007 final, just as he had done against the field all fortnight long at Melbourne Park. The Swiss star didn't drop a set throughout the tournament, becoming the first man to flawlessly win a major since Bjorn Borg at 1980 Roland Garros. He blasted through a murderer’s row of opponents as well, routing the likes of Jonas Bjorkman, Mikhail Youzhny, Novak Djokovic, Tommy Robredo and Roddick, before dismissing the 10th-seeded Gonzalez.
The achievements continued to pile up for Federer: he tied Jack Crawford's 73-year-old record by appearing in seven consecutive major finals and less than a month later he would break Connors' record of 160 consecutive weeks atop the ATP Rankings.
"Equaling records, doing something that hasn't been done for a long time, it's really nice, no doubt," Federer said. "All I care about in the end is to hopefully hold that trophy. Of course, now that it's over, it's great to think, 'Wow, you know, not having dropped a set.' It's quite amazing."
(11) 2007 Wimbledon – d. Rafael Nadal 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2
The elusive Roland Garros title evaded Federer again, as Nadal claimed his third consecutive championship in Paris. But Federer gained a bit of revenge at the All England Club, winning his fifth consecutive title at The Championships and matching Borg's seemingly untouchable streak. The Swede in the front row of the royal box as the two competitors put on a show.
On historic Centre Court, Federer and Nadal gave the Wimbledon faithful a match they would never forget. The Spaniard pushed his Swiss rival to five sets, marking Federer’s first five-set match of his five-year reign at the grass-court major. It seemed as if Nadal had discovered the formula to defeat Federer on his preferred surface, but that moment would be put on hold for one more year. After dropping the fourth set 6-2, the Basel native responded in kind, saving multiple break points in the decider before emerging victorious after four hours and 20 minutes.
"I'm just happy with such a great run," Federer said about his five straight titles at SW19. "I'm loving every minute of it, that's clear."
(12) 2007 US Open – d. Novak Djokovic 7-6(4), 7-6(2), 6-4
For the third time in the past four years, Federer clinched a three-Slam season, beating 20-year-old Djokovic during their first meeting in a Grand Slam final. The “first evers” continued as well, as the 26-year-old Federer became the first man in the Open Era to win four consecutive US Open titles. Bill Tilden of the United States won six straight U.S. national titles from 1920-25.
But perhaps what was most impressive was not just the final — in which Federer saved five set points on Djokovic’s serve in the first set and two more in the second set — but the Swiss’ performance in his last three matches of the tournament. Federer defeated three members of the Top 5 in the ATP Rankings. He was not broken in a straight-sets victory in the quarter-finals against World No. 5 Andy Roddick, and earned 25 break chances — seizing nine of them — against World No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko in another three-set win in the semi-finals. Overall, Federer claimed his final 12 sets en route to a 12th Slam trophy.
(13) 2008 US Open – d. Andy Murray 6-2, 7-5, 6-2
It took nine months, but Federer didn't leave 2008 without a Grand Slam title. After falling short in the Roland Garros and Wimbledon finals, Federer needed less than two hours to dismiss Murray. With Federer's record-tying fifth US Open title – he matched Jimmy Connors – the Swiss celebrated his 13th Grand Slam crown, moving to within one of Sampras' all-time mark of 14.
It was a positive end to what was at points a bumpy season — on and off the court — as Federer suffered from food poisoning ahead of the Australian Open and mononucleosis throughout the early part of the year. And to make matters worse, he lost arguably the greatest match ever against archrival Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon final, leading to the loss of his No. 1 spot in the ATP Rankings after a record 237 weeks in August. So while Federer failed to win multiple Slams in 2008 for the first time since 2003, his triumph at Flushing Meadows reminded the world that he was not going anywhere.
“One thing’s for sure,” Federer said on court after beating Murray. “I’m not going to stop at thirteen.”
For the second time in 10 tries in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry, Federer defeated Rafael Nadal on clay at Madrid in 2009, which was the final event ahead of Roland Garros. Knowing what we know now — Federer has not beaten the left-hander on the surface since (2-13) — perhaps it was a sign.
But he would have to get through Nadal again in Paris, right? Wrong. The previously undefeated four-time Roland Garros champion fell shockingly in the fourth round against Robin Soderling, opening the door for Federer to dance his way through. And that he did.
Federer tied Pete Sampras’ record of 14 major titles — set at the 2002 US Open — winning his first Coupe des Mousquetaires to complete his career Grand Slam. The Swiss ousted Soderling in straight sets after coming from two sets to one down in the semi-finals against Juan Martin del Potro.
It was Federer's fourth Roland Garros final but his first against someone not named “Rafa”. The Swiss took advantage of the opportunity.
(15) 2009 Wimbledon — d. Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 3-6, 16-14
It all began at The Championships for Federer. And fittingly, it was at the All England Club that the Swiss would stomp down another door. Just a month earlier, the second seed finally captured the one major title that long eluded him at Roland Garros, claiming his first trophy on the terre battue to complete his career Grand Slam. But from a historical perspective, that triumph also tied him with Pete Sampras atop the Grand Slam championships list, both at 14. One month later, Federer would stand alone.
One year after seeing his title streak at Wimbledon come to end at five in arguably the greatest match of all time against Rafael Nadal, another longtime rival in Andy Roddick — whom Federer beat in their previous three Slam finals (2004-05 Wimbledon, 2006 US Open) stood across the net in the final. As the American said following the match, he "threw the kitchen sink at [Federer], but he went to the bathroom and got his tub". That included a personal record of 50 aces for Federer, which still stands today. A break in the final game — Federer’s only break in the entire match — was enough as he ended the longest final in Grand Slam history by games (77) to dethrone Sampras in the record books and Nadal in the ATP Rankings, regaining the No. 1 spot.
(16) 2010 Australian Open — d. Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(11)
Federer arrived in Melbourne Park having advanced to the final of seven consecutive Grand Slams, winning two of his past three (2009 Roland Garros, 2009 Wimbledon). But Murray was Great Britain’s best hope to win a major since Fred Perry in 1936. And the 22-year-old looked the part of a tough challenger when he outplayed Federer’s chief rival, Rafael Nadal, before the Spaniard retired due to a knee injury.
But Federer would have none of it. Despite losing six of his previous nine FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against the Scot, the 28-year-old extended his Grand Slam titles record with a masterful performance. The straight-sets victory clinched Federer’s fourth title in Melbourne, the third major at which he owned at least that many trophies. And in the entire fortnight, he dropped just two sets. In his final four matches, Federer cruised past former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt and three more Top 10 players, losing just one set in total.
“I think this has been one of my finest performances in a long time,” Federer said. “Or, maybe, forever.”
(17) 2012 Wimbledon — d. Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4
If you thought that a time would come when Federer would stop finding ways to etch his name into the record books, well, you’d be wrong. The rise of Novak Djokovic — who won three Grand Slams in 2011 as well as the 2012 Australian Open, left Federer as the third seed entering Wimbledon for the second consecutive year after being No. 1 or No. 2 for the six years prior. It had been more than two years since Federer last won a major — his longest Slam drought since he earned his first triumph at that level at 2003 Wimbledon.
And it wasn’t an easy journey through the draw for Federer, who recovered from a two-set deficit for the sixth time in his career to beat No. 29 seed Julien Benneteau in the third round. He ousted Djokovic, the defending champion, in a four-set semi-final before ending Murray’s hopes of capturing his first major once again, this time in a tougher four sets. The triumph was Federer’s seventh at the All England Club, tying William Renshaw and Pete Sampras’ all-time record.
(18) 2017 Australian Open — d. Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
Was this the furthest Federer had been from his usual favourite status at a Grand Slam since he won his first major in 2003? The 35-year-old arrived at Melbourne Park after six months on the sidelines due to a knee injury. It was improbable that the 17th seed would manage his first major since 2012 Wimbledon, especially given his daunting draw — Federer had not beaten a Top 10 opponent in his past four tries.
But improbable is not impossible, and Federer navigated his way past three Top 10 players — including three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals — to become the oldest Grand Slam finalist since Ken Rosewall at the 1974 US Open. Then came Rafael Nadal, whom he had not beaten at a major since 2007 Wimbledon. Down 1-3 in the fifth set, the Swiss’ dream run appeared it would fall just short of a perfect ending. But after winning five straight games, Federer was able to raise his 18th Slam trophy. And that was only the beginning of a tremendous bounceback season in which the right-hander would tally a 52-5 record and finish at No. 2 in the ATP Rankings.
(19) 2017 Wimbledon — d. Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4
Federer began 2017 better than anyone — including himself — could have imagined, arriving at SW19 with a 25-2 record on the season. Would the dream run continue? The last time the Swiss was at the All England Club, in 2016, he lost against Milos Raonic in the semi-finals before missing the rest of the season due to a knee injury. This time around much was unknown — Federer swept the Australian Open, the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open presented by Itau, but skipped the entire clay season. Would competing at Stuttgart and Halle be enough preparation to round into Slam-winning form?
The answer was a resounding yes. Federer, in becoming the oldest player to win on the grass of SW19 in the Open Era, also became the first to win the tournament without the loss of a set since 1976 when Bjorn Borg won the first of five consecutive Wimbledon titles. Federer’s most lopsided major final victory by games since the 2004 US Open (d. Hewitt) was also the first time since 2009 that Federer earned two Grand Slam trophies in a single season.
An extraordinary 20th Grand Slam trophy was so close. Federer cruised to the final without dropping a set, and standing across the net was Marin Cilic, whom the 36-year-old beat in straight sets to win his 2017 Wimbledon title. The Swiss led two sets to one and an immediate break in the fourth set. But suddenly, victory appeared far away. Federer lost all rhythm on his serve and a historical win was not so certain anymore as the Croat claimed the final five games of the set to force a fifth. But much like in the 2017 Australian Open final, Federer saved his best tennis for last, breaking in the second game of the decider and never looking back, winning a Grand Slam final in five sets for the fourth time in his career.
It is Federer's sixth Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, tying Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic for the most triumphs in the event's history. The right-hander has now won three of the past five majors, and three of the past four Slams he has competed in, a feat he had not accomplished since 2008-09 when he captured the US Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Federer is now within 155 ATP Rankings points of Rafael Nadal, who holds the top spot. The father of four has not held the No. 1 ATP Ranking since 4 November 2012.