Arguably the best player the game of tennis has ever seen, Roger Federer has innumerable records to his credit from being the only player in the history to have appeared in five title matches of all the Grand Slam tournaments and has held the No. 1 ATP ranking for a record 237 consecutive weeks. But now ‘the Fed Express’ has lost its steam with the younger players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic posing a tough challenge to a once invincible tennis star.
It is not easy to constantly rank among the top 2 for over 8 years now but with the humility and dedication that he possesses, winning became a habit for him. When he defeated Pete Sampras in the 2001 Wimbledon quarterfinals, the youngster made his mark only for greater things to come. 2003 saw the beginning of his regime as his first Grand Slam victory came when he beat Mark Phillippoussis in straight sets.
The era of dominance started when he won 3 Grand Slams in 2004 only the second person to do so after Mats Wilander in 1988. Clay was never his preferred court and this explains why he has only 1 French Open title to his credit. Rafael Nadal has always been Federer’s nemesis on the clay court with the Spaniard holding a record of 12-2 on clay, against him.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have one of the greatest rivalries on-court in sporting history. Federer’s exceptional shot making and Nadal’s swiftness and energy make it a fierce battle as they once went on for 5 hours at the 2006 Rome Masters. Winning the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award for 4 years consecutively from 2005 to 2008, the period after has not been as fruitful as he would have expected as the tediousness of being on tour for most part of the year got to him and slowly saw him lose steam.
2011 has been the poorest for him comparatively, though he managed to end runner-up in the French Open. With Novak Djokovic being the only other player apart from Nadal who has double-figure career wins over him, the competition has widened for Federer. Djokovic caused him one of the most terrible losses he has had thus far by beating him in the US open semi finals after Federer lost 2 consecutive set points in the fifth set and ended up losing the match which was considered one of the greatest matches ever seen.
Federer came back to winning ways when he defeated Kei Nishikori in the Swiss Indoors Basel after a title drought with just the Qatar Open victory to his credit in the year of 2011 which has been dismal for him as he went without a Grand Slam title for the first time in 9 years. As Jimmy Connors said, “In an era of specialists, you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist… or you’re Roger Federer”, we can expect the Swiss legend to come back stronger than ever in 2012.