Roger Federer – His Greatest Slam Moments
Roger Federer defined tennis for much of the start of the 21st century, dominating the men’s game soon after a time when those in the sport worried it would wane.
In a monumental career spanning over 24 years and more than 1500 matches, the Swiss maestro has redefined the sport as a champion and as an icon. Join Tennishead as we highlight the defining triumphs of Federer’s legendary tennis story.
2001 – Changing of the Guard – When Federer deposed Wimbledon royalty
Federer displayed his early promise the way many young players do, by winning a junior Slam title, his being the 1998 Wimbledon boys’ singles. Aged 16, he won the event as the fifth seed and without dropping a set.
After making his Slam debut at the next year’s French Open, the now 17-year-old entered Wimbledon on a wildcard. That year and the next in 2000 he lost in the first round, but 2001 would prove to be his breakthrough year.
After reaching the quarter-finals of Roland Garros, Federer entered Wimbledon seeded 15th, his first time being seeded at a Slam. A straight sets win over Belgium’s Christophe Rochus was his first in a Wimbledon main draw, one he backed up by defeating Xavier Malisse and Jonas Bjorkman next.
Into the fourth round and Federer came up against the greatest Wimbledon men’s champion of the Open Era, Pete Sampras. The American was a seven-time champion and four-time defending champion when the pair met, having not lot in his last 31 matches at SW19.
In what would go down in history as an all-time classic, Federer ended the dominance of Sampras 7-6 (9-7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (2-7) 7-5. Sampras played just one more Wimbledon in 2002, while Federer would return for many years to come…
2003 – The Start of an Era – When Federer began a Wimbledon dynasty
After Wimbledon 2001, Federer was unable to recapture the form that saw him to the quarter-finals that year. He did not reach another Major quarter-final across the next seven events, even losing in the first round of Wimbledon 2002 while seeded seventh and touted as one of the favourites.
Then came Wimbledon 2003, snd Federer got to work. The 21-year-old overwhelmed the field, dropping just one set en route to the final where he faced unseeded Australian Mark Philippoussis. Even then Federer went unopposed, winning the final 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) to clinch his maiden Slam title and usher in the start of tennis dominance not seen in the men’s game for decades…
2009 – A Dream Set Complete – When Federer finally completed the Grand Slam
In the ensuing years, Federer was tennis as he dominated the men’s tour. After Wimbledon 2003, the Swiss won three of the next five Australian Open titles, four consecutive Wimbledon and five successive US Open crowns.
One Slam surface eluded him however, the clay of Paris. After failing to progress beyond the quarter-finals up until 2005, he ran into Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, losing to him on the Spaniard’s 19th birthday.
For the next three years Federer reached the final in the French capital, and each time he lost to Nadal, including a chastening 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 defeat in the 2008 final.
To rub salt in the wound, Nadal then downed Federer in his domain, Centre Court of Wimbledon, to end the world number one’s streak of five titles there in arguably the greatest match ever played.
One year on and now dethroned from the top of the rankings for the first time in more than four years, Federer may have felt resigned to once again losing to Nadal in the French Open final. But then the unprecedented happened as the Spaniard finally lost a match in Paris, going out to Robin Soderling in the fourth round.
Federer nearly choked on his chance though, going two sets to love down against Tommy Haas in his own fourth round battle. But the second seed dug deep to roar back and win from there before making it to the final and a meeting with Soderling himself.
And the Swiss was not going to pass up his best opportunity for the title in Paris, defeating the Swede 6-1, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 to become just the third man in the Open Era after Rod Laver and Andre Agassi to complete the Career Grand Slam.
2009 – A Record for the Ages – When the Swiss surpassed his Idol
Not only did Federer complete the Grand Slam in Paris, but he drew level with Sampras as the man with the most Slam singles titles in the Open Era with 14.
That elusive number was felt to be unbreakable by many when the American reached it with his final Major title at the 2002 US Open. And yet, Federer had equalled him less than seven years later.
Back on the comfort of the Wimbledon grass next, and after Nadal withdrew from the event with injury Federer was left as favourite for a sixth title.
As in 2003, Federer reached the final once more for the loss of just one set. There he faced familiar rival Andy Roddick in their third meeting in a Wimbledon after Federer won against the American in 2004 and 2005.
And the 2003 US Open champion started the stronger as he claimed the first set from Federer 7-5. Known most of all for his dominant serve, Roddick was not broken once entering the fourth set. Despite this, he went into that set two sets to one down after Federer had won the second and third 8-6 and 7-5 in tiebreaks.
Roddick levelled with a 6-3 fourth set, and with no tiebreak to separate them in the fifth the two seemed in a stalemate for victory. 6-6 came and went, as did 7-7, 8-8, all the way until 15-14 when Federer really took on the Roddick serve. Finally, after more than four hours and 17 minutes on court, a shanked Roddick forehand sent Federer leaping for joy as he won his 15th Major title, standing alone as the winningest man in Open Era Slam history.
2017 – Defying Tennis Logic – A Slam Resurrection
After securing his 17th Slam title at Wimbledon 2012, the well seemed to have dried up for Federer. The great reached just three Major finals from 13 staged, and went 0-3 in each of those finals against Novak Djokovic.
After missing the 2016 French Open and losing in the semi-finals of Wimbledon to Milos Raonic, Federer took the rest of the season off to recover from a knee injury, ending 2016 without a title of any kind and dropping out of the top 10 for the first time in 14 years.
After six months out Federer returned at the 2017 Australian Open seeded 17th. Wins over 300th ranked Jurgen Melzer and world number 200 Noah Rubin seemed routine, before victories over top 10 players Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori got fans more excited.
Moreover, two-time defending champion Djokovic had lost in the second round to Denis Istomin, while Mischa Zverev took out world number one Andy Murray in the fourth round to face Federer.
After dismissing the German in straight sets, Federer defeated compatriot and 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka to reach a sixth final in Melbourne. And who else was waiting there but Nadal, making this meeting the duo’s ninth in a Slam final and first in first at that stage since the 2011 French Open.
After losing an epic to Nadal in Melbourne eight years earlier in 2009, Federer avenged that heartbreak to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 and secure an 18th Major title, drawing level with legends Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.
2017 – Perfection Incarnate – A Wimbledon sweep
Federer did not stop there as he continued his renaissance, winning Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back to complete the ‘Sunshine Double’ for a third time in his career and first time since 2006, defeating Nadal in the Miami final as in Melbourne.
A ninth title on the grass of Halle set Federer up nicely for Wimbledon and what was to become arguably his most flawless Slam. The Swiss benefitted from a retirement from Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round, before straight sets wins over Dusan Lajovic, Mischa Zverev and 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Next came Raonic, the man who had dumped Federer out of SW19 in the semi-finals the year prior. But the seven-time champion would have none of that here, brushing aside the Canadian 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4).
Next came Tomas Berdych, a former finalist from 2010 and surely a man who would offer more resistance to Federer? But no, the world number five won in straight sets once more, pushed slightly harder as he won 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 to reach an 11th Wimbledon final.
There he met Marin Cilic, a man with a Slam title to his name from the 2014 US Open but having never made the final at Wimbledon. Unfortunately for the Croatian his body stopped him from playing his best as foot blisters hampered his movement.
Nonetheless Federer remained imperious as he won the final 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 for a record-extending 19th Major crown. It was just the second time he had won a Slam without dropping a set after doing so at the 2007 Australian Open. Federer would win one more Slam in his career, the 2018 Australian Open, again defeating Cilic in the final, this time over five sets.
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