With Roger Federer’s unimaginable loss in the 2nd round at Wimbledon, one of his most prized, and possibly the last of his incredible streaks has come to an end. The 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarter finals represented an unparalleled mould of consistency which hasn’t come close to being matched. This consistency was demonstrated through match streaks, titles and rankings, all of which contribute to the legacy of the greatest player of all time.
As such, now is as greater time as any to take a look at Federer’s top 10 records which will most likely never be broken. So absurd is the list of his achievements, is that his 17 Grand Slam titles don’t even top the count!
10. Appearing in all 4 Grand Slam Finals in a calendar year – 3 times (2 consecutive)
Usually a number 10 ranked record is just used to fill a list, but if you sit back and think, this is an incredible achievement. He is only the second player to achieve this feat after Rod Laver, and he has done it 3 times! 2 in consecutive years (2006-2007). Even with this record at number 10 on this list, it is still hard to see it being beaten. In 2011, Novak Djokovic had an incredible run, but managed to make only 3 of the 4 Grand Slam finals. Could his year have been better? Probably not. So it’s tough to see that such a year could be bettered at least 3 times.
9. 17 Grand Slam Titles
Although this record is a major contributor to his claim of the ‘greatest of all time’, it would appear to be one of his most ‘breakable’ records. At 17 titles, 3 ahead of Pete Sampras, and 5 ahead of Rafael Nadal. On current form and injury concerns, it is conceivable that Rafa may struggle to win anywhere else apart from Roland Garros, meaning Federer’s record is safe for at least another 5 years. Novak Djokovic on 6 titles is still a world away from being considered to challenge this, so check back here in 3 or 4 years for a reassessment. Could Roger Federer win more? Maybe 1 or 2, but he may need some serious form and lucky bounces to extend his number of titles to 20.
8. 11 Grand Slam titles in 4 years
Another absurd record, and only at number 8. Through the years 2004 to 2007 Roger Federer was crushing at the Grand Slam level. Outside of the clay at Roland Garros where beating Nadal was possibly the most difficult challenge in all of sport, Federer was dominant. Losing only to Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open semis, where he held a match point, this number could easily be 12. This record is the epitome of dominance. Again, it is difficult to see how someone can be at the top of their game for 4 years and still convert that to Grand Slam victories. Like the 2012 season, you could argue that again Djokovic was the dominant player on tour, but he could only win 1 Grand Slam. It is too hard to imagine that someone can be at such a greater level than his opponents, for such a long time.
7. World Number 1 Ranking
237 consecutive weeks at world number 1, and 302 in total – ridiculous numbers. 237 weeks consecutive is the record here which is more unlikely to be broken. Not only does this reflect the level of his game, but the durability of his body. With the tour more physical than ever, players defending their points from previous years will more than likely reach hiccups along the way, limiting their chances at coming close to this number. Adding to this is the current 2nd longest consecutive weeks at number 1 – Jimmy Connors at 160 weeks, over a year shorter than Fed’s record. Of the current players, Nadal’s longest streak is 56 weeks, while Djokovic is 53. Both of these men in the past 5 years have shown signs of invincibility, yet their streaks are less than a quarter the length of Federer’s.
6. 24 straight finals victories
Going through the October 2003 to September 2005 Federer won all 24 of the finals he made. During this streak he won 5 Grand Slams, 7 Masters 1000s, and 2 end of year championships. A number of things can be said about this record. First of all, 24 titles in less than 2 years is pretty amazing. And secondly, it shows he comes up big when it matters most, beating quality opponents in Agassi, Safin, Roddick, Hewitt, Nadal and Murray along the way. Imagine going into a final against Federer on this streak. You’ve played a great week or two of tennis and definitely worthy of a final, but you come up against a man who KNOWS he is going to win. With such confidence he can take from previous victories, clutch moments are always going to lean towards Federer. The next best streak in this record is 12 straight wins, showing how much Fed has destroyed this record.
5. Hard Court winning streaks
Now we get into the upper echelon of Federer’s records. Like many of his records he holds, he has completely blown away the competition. His longest streak on hard courts is an astonishing 56 consecutive wins. Fed not only holds this record, but also the 2nd longest winning streak at 36 match wins. These streaks both made up what is one of his most incredible periods of domination, where in the February 2005 to February 2007 period, he scored 111 wins, to only 2 losses on the hard courts. 2 losses! Currently, in a period of baseline dominance and a rather homogenous style of play on tour, this record will probably never be bettered. On any given day, a big server such as Berdych, Tsonga, Del Potro or even some lower ranked contenders such as Janowicz or Raonic can get hot and take out any of the top players most likely to challenge for this record.
4. 10 consecutive Australian Open semi finals
You read correctly. 10 consecutive. This is ridiculous for a number of reasons. Firstly, 10 years is a decent career for anyone. Secondly, to be at the top of the game for 10 years is unheard of. Thirdly, in all of these years, he hasn’t succumbed to any injury preventing him from competing at his best. And finally, to go 10 years without a ‘bad’ Australian Open is pretty amazing. Of those 10 semi finals, he has won through to the final ‘only’ 5 times, which when you think about it, probably isn’t the greatest conversion rate for someone with such lofty standards. Regardless, he has overcome some tight matches, particularly in 2008 when he was battling glandular fever, coming from 2 sets to love down against Berdych in 2009 and recovering from a dangerous position against Davydenko in 2010. Another record of Federer’s which will never be touched.
3. 65 consecutive grass court match wins
Another record demonstrating the Swiss champion’s longevity. From 2003 until he lost in the Wimbledon final in 2008 against Nadal, Federer was untouchable. Considering there would be a maximum of 2 grass court tournaments that players would enter in a year, this record will again, never be touched. Like the hard court record, dominance on a surface demonstrates a particular ability to be able to adapt quickly to new surroundings, especially when this surface is grass. Coming of the clay court grind prior to and including the French Open, to switch with such ease to grass is an incredible asset. When this record began, grass courts played more traditionally, with faster speeds and lower bounces. Nowadays, with a shift towards more baseline play due to slower courts, this record will be even harder to topple. Andy Murray holds the current longest grass court streak at 8 matches. Yeah, this record is never going to be broken. In-fact, 30 consecutive grass court matches will probably never be beaten.
2. 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi finals
In my opinion, this is his most impressive record, however, in terms of beatability it only comes in at number 2. Still, this record will never be broken. The previous record was 10 (Rod Laver), now 12 (Novak Djokovic) so Fed has come close to doubling this. This record I believe cements his place as the greatest of all time. For over 5 years, Federer weathered the storm of any up and coming challenger to his throne, methodically finding his best form when he needed it most. When Robin Soderling ended this streak it was like the tennis world had turned upside down. How could he lose before the semis? No way. This sent Federer on a downward spiral where he would only win 1 more Grand Slam, make 1 further final, 6 semi finals, and 4 quarter finals. Shocking really. Again, in this age of tennis that is so hard on the players, to reach semi finals for over 5 years will be unheard of. I mean, Djokovic is at 12, so he’ll need to stay at his current peak for another 3 years, and not have a bad day, to break this record.
1. 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarter finals
The mother of all records sadly came to an end this week, and it wasn’t as if Federer had a bad day. He was simply outplayed by a better player, which again, demonstrates the sort of level Federer maintained for 9 years. 9 years! No doubt he came across players like this at the top of their game, namely, Tipsarevic in 2008 and Simon in 2011 in Melbourne, Falla in 2010 at Wimbledon and Haas in 2009 at the French. On all of these occasions the great man would find a way through. Big serves when he needed them, clutch on break points, and taking advantage of any wavering opponents. 9 years is a ridiculously long time to be at the top of your game. Up and coming youngster Bernard Tomic was 11 years old when this record began and Nadal wasn’t even around to win the French Open!! In terms of likelihood of being broken, this one has about as much chance as John Newcombe asking for players to stay on the baseline. Seriously though, Djokovic will have to keep current form for another 5 years for this to be challenged.