Roger Federer Winning the French Open is Big for Tennis History

So what do you think? Is Roger Federer the greatest tennis player of all time? Great question and with all the great players from the past it makes for an interesting discussion. He is among the seven greats that have won the career grand slam—Fred Perry, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver, Andre Agassi, and Rafael Nadal.

On a personal side note…I’ve had a past connection with three of the seven :) I played doubles (and won several tournaments) with Roy Emerson’s son, Anthony. I got to workout with Rod Laver for an hour or so when my Dad ran a senior tour event in Atlanta in 1978 (still have the picture framed :).

I played Andre Agassi in the Olympic Stadium in Seoul, Korea in 1987. I served for the match at 5-3 in the third set when four laser passing shots went right by me!

Some have said that perhaps Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, and John McEnroe would have been more in the mix if they had played all the grand slam events each year. In those days, the Australian Open wasn’t attended by all the top players each year. My answer to that is tough luck! They should have made the trip down under.

I remember when McEnroe would skip out on that event, and Connors would skip the French Open. As great as Connors was, I don’t think he would have won a lot of majors on red clay.

The main contenders to join Roger as the greatest ever are Laver, Pete Sampras, and of course Fed's nemesis, Rafa Nadal. Laver won two calendar year grand slams. He is the only player to do this. Some argue that he may have won more if he hadn’t been excluded for years because of his “pro” status. (In those days only “amateurs” were allowed to play in the grand slam events.)

You can’t go on “what ifs” and hypothetical situations though. Plus, three of the four slams in his day were played on the same surface (grass), which could make things a bit easier for a hot grass court player.

Federer has passed Sampras’ grand slam record of fourteen. Since he has continued on and established the new record of seventeen slams, Sampras fades in the comparison. But what Sampras did—especially at Wimbledon—was an amazing feat. He never won the French (one semi-final), so that doesn’t stack up to what Fed has accomplished at the French (one semi-final, three finals, and one win).

This is an exciting time for men’s tennis. Time will tell if Fed will continue to dominate at the grand slams (20 semi-finals or better in a row and played in 15 of 16 finals!). Of course, there’s still Rafael Nadal who continues to make tennis history of his own. A big chink in his case for the greatest of all time is his losing record against Nadal.

However things work out, it’s good for the game. I believer Federer will go on and surpass everyone, past and present. He has the game to do this. He also enjoys playing, so we’ll probably see him competing well into his 30s.

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