The man born in Binningen, Switzerland is one of the only athletes in the world to be considered, both statistically and for what he brings to the game, the greatest of all time. Many words have been written about his grace, his unflappable style and the way he makes the game look so easy, so beautiful. It had almost become mandatory by 2009, that whatever he achieves or fail to achieves, or even if he falls short in numbers, he will be considered the best of them all.
But it is impossible to ignore his latest record- and compels us to look at his statistics over a period of time. As of October 15th, 2012, Federer will begin his 300th week as the ATP World No. 1 player. This number seemed a near-impossibility after 2010 and 2011- the years that belonged to Nadal and Djokovic. Federer was 1 week short of Pete Sampras’s all time record of 286 weeks, for a long time. It seemed almost inevitable that this was one milestone that could remain beyond the master in this highly competitive and evolving era.
But here we are- 300 weeks. This is apart from the 237 consecutive weeks he spent at World No. 1 between 2004-2008. It is impossible to point out which number is more outrageous- his 34 consecutive Grand Slam quarter finals, or these 300 weeks as the top player in Men’s Tennis.
Or the fact that he has reached the FINAL of every Grand Slam 5 or more times.
Or that he has reached 32 Grand Slam Semi-Finals. Or 24 Grand Slam Finals- 10 in a row at one time.
Or that he shares the Open Era Record of Australian Open, Wimbledon AND US Open titles.
Or that he was, for 8 years, in the top 2 of Men’s Tennis (year ending rankings).
Or 9 years in the top 3.
Or that he is the oldest of the greatest trivalry in men’s tennis, still managing to hold his ground.
Or that he holds 21 Masters titles- a joint record too.
Or that he has won 247 Grand Slam Singles matches. Another first.
Or that he is, in his 32nd year of existence, the only man in 2012 to win titles on all surfaces.
Or that he has won an Olympic Gold medal, not in Singles, but Doubles.
Or that he has reached the Final in each of the 9 Masters tournaments.
Or that he holds a Career Grand Slam- a record that is becoming common these days.
And most importantly, winning SIX ATP world tour Final titles- unparalleled, and probably a record that might never be broken- like a few others.
He has won the Sports Oscar- Laureus Sportsman of the year- for four years between 2005 and 2008. A lot of these numbers will be added to, in the coming year, maybe not at the fast rate we are accustomed to. But he has now reached a level in sport, of longetivity and fitness, that whenever he lifts a racquet, a new record will fall. Much like Sachin Tendulkar in cricket, or Tiger Woods in Golf (not yet).
2013 could well be his last year in the top 3, with the men’s tour heating up to extreme levels already- but that’s what we said in 2011 about 2012.
And he is still the World No. 1, at Shanghai, as he battles to finish the year on top. Another World Tour Final Win could well deflate some of his younger rivals, atleast numbers wise, who might then just play to dominate periods- like Djokovic over 1.5 years and Nadal over 2 years.
The greatest tribute to his 300 weeks at the top could well be his own- the fact that he is still moving with agility, pace and conviction to serve us, week after week, a few more glimpses of brilliance at the twilight (?) of his glittering career.
This is one career nobody wants to see ending. Even in our dreams.