The Greatest Men’s Tennis Player of All Time
Coming into this year’s Australian Open, popular opinion regarding who the greatest players in tennis history were revolved around a few names: Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Andre Agassi, among others. And of course, Roger Federer. However, over the last few years, Federer’s dominance has been anything but, as he hadn’t won a Grand Slam Singles title since Wimbledon in 2012. That is, until today. Roger Federer won the 2017 Australian Open, his 18th career Grand Slam Singles victory, and, in the opinions of many, cemented himself as the greatest tennis player of all time.
But how can such a wide-sweeping statement be made? Well, let’s consider a few things. First, Roger Federer’s been playing at an extremely high level since he was 17 (he’s 35 now). The fact that he’s been able to maintain his place as a serious contender for 18 years is nothing short of amazing. He also holds the record for most consecutive weeks ranked #1, spending just over 5 years at #1 earlier in his career.
Also, there’s the little tidbit of how his 18 Grand Slam Singles titles are an all-time record, one that he’s held for a number of years since breaking Pete Sampras’ old record of 14. Usually in sports, a good barometer of how to name someone “Greatest of All Time” or GOAT requires having the most titles of anyone, particularly in an individual sport.
But perhaps most impressive is that he won the 2017 Australian Open about 4 ½ years after winning his last major when he won Wimbledon in 2012. The fact that he’s been absent from the title picture for so long after being so dominant, and then just picking right back up from where you left off is phenomenal. To add to this, Federer underwent surgery for the first time in his career, which in itself is amazing, missing a full 6 months of action. This year’s Australian Open was the first tournament he’d entered since his absence. So to emerge as champion is simply an homage to his greatness.
It’s very hard to imagine anyone ever breaking his record of 18 Grand Slam titles, but considering that he’s playing at an extremely high level, just as he always has, he may just add to that number before everything’s all said and done.