The Greatest Player Ever*

Can you be the greatest player ever if you aren't the greatest player in your prime? This is just one of many questions surrounding the legacy of Roger Federer.

A quick recap for all of you non-FedFanatics: A record 16 Major championships, 814-187 career win-loss record, 70 singles titles, $68 million dollars from playing tennis (not to mention the millions from endorsements), and winner of all four grand slam events (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open), and winner of the year-end championships a record 6 times. The only things Federer is lacking is an Olympic gold, which would give him the "Golden Slam" and a Davis Cup Championship (kind of like the World Cup of Tennis, but less fun, and played every year). Also, Federer's reign at World Number One started February 2nd, 2004. My how times have changed in just 8 years.

The closest man to Federer in Grand Slam titles is Pete Sampras, with 14 total. Sampras also leads Federer in weeks at #1, but only by one excruciatingly painful (by Federer's standpoint) week.

With all of these numbers it seems like Federer is almost unarguably the greatest player ever, but here is why the previous question is posed. Roger Federer is a lifetime 9-18 against his major rival Rafael Nadal. Many attribute this to lefty Nadal's spinning, highly bouncing forehands to Federer's slightly weak one handed backhand. Federer has only beaten the Mallorcan twice in Grand Slam events, but has lost 8, and 6 of those in Finals.

Obviously you can't beat everyone every time you play, but to have such a bad winning percentage against your main rival is a bit concerning. Federer is also 14-10 against World Number 1 Novak Djokovic. This is a good winning percentage, but recently, while Djokovic has risen to extreme power, Federer has fallen. He has lost three of four, but his win came in the Rolland Garros (French Open) semifinal, halting Djokovic's 41 match winning streak.

With all the talk of Federer's retirement coming up soon (or maybe not) questions will start to arise about his ability to stay with the younger, faster, and stronger athletes. The answer, for now, is a resounding yes. Before Federer's collapse against Nadal in the Aussie Open Semis in January, Federer destroyed the likes of Aussie teen prodigy Bernard Tomic, and former World #5 and the man who grabbed the 2008 U.S. Open Final right out of Fed's hands, Juan Martin del Potro.

Federer has stayed with his contemporaries and has shown a lot of fight in the past 5 months, but at 30 years old (old in tennis years) his time is limited. He has about 6 majors left in the tank where his ability to win will be there. With a packed 2012, London Olympics & Davis Cup, Federer has to get his priorities right.

Realistically, if he wins one more out of the next six majors, and if it's over Nadal & Djokovic, he'll solidify his spot as the GOAT. (that is to say, only if Djokovic slows down his current pace of winning majors, 3 straight 4 of last 5, 5 total).

In my and many other's eyes, Roger Federer IS the Greatest tennis player Of All Time. You may agree, you may disagree, but it's tough to discount 16 majors, no matter how many losses to Rafael Nadal, eve though it still stings.

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