Roger Federer’s results from 2004-2007 are the most remarkable 4 year period any male player has compiled. The accomplishments for these 4 years are too numerous to name in a single column, but 3 top highlights are Federer winning 11 Grand Slam titles, 3 Year End Championships and 41 total tournament titles. This period plus Federer’s play in 2003 had many claiming him to be the greatest of all time prior to 2008 or his record setting 2009.
2008-2011: The Soft Landing
Roger Federer’s peak was his 2006 season so technically his “decline” began in 2007.* Still, from 2008 through 2011 Roger Federer has put up quite a nice 4 year period. It is not equal to say Ivan Lendl’s 1984-1987, Pete Sampras’ 1994-1997** or Rafael Nadal’s record over the identical 2008-2011 period, but consider this:
Since 1-1-2008 Roger Federer has
- Won each Grand Slam title 1 time (USO 08, FO and W 09, AO 10 – It took Andre Agassi from July 1992-June 1999 to do the same thing)
- Won an Olympic Gold Medal in doubles
- Reached 8 consecutive Grand Slam finals between the 2008 Australian Open and the 2010 French Open – 2nd All-time to his own record of 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals
- Won 1 Year End Championship (he might well win a 2nd for this time period)
- Finished 2009 ranked #1
- Been runner-up at 5 Grand Slams
- Won 4 Masters Series Shields
- Won 16 total titles
As mentioned before, this is not the greatest 4 year period in tennis history. However, Federer’s results in these 4 years alone out pace the career accomplishments of many Hall of Fame and almost certain Hall of Fame players. I’d take Federer’s wins from 2008 forward over and above Jim Courier’s 4 Grand Slam titles, 1992 #1 ranking and 27 career titles (although this could be debated). However, Federer during his declining years clearly out achieved the entire careers of multiple slam winners such as Gustavo Kuerten, Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt, Patrick Rafter and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. I hold each of those players in high regard.
History in Motion
For Federer now, every match he wins places him into a greater light. Adding a title such as Paris or even Basel only extends his record of excellence. One day Federer is winning his 800th match, the next he is becoming the only man to reach the final round of all 9 Masters 1000 events, and the day after that he wins his 69th career title. Federer is not letting the ink dry before writing the next pages in the tennis history books.
* – A year with 3 slams, 1 runner-up at the French Open and titles at Cincinnati and Hamburg hardly sounds like a decline.
** – I could have picked Sampras 93-96, but 96 was likely the worst year of Pete’s prime whereas Pete won 10 title, 2 slams, and a Year End Championship in 1997.
Federer would now have 17 singles titles since 2008 began including 1 of each slam, an Olympic gold medal in doubles, 2 Year End Championships, and Masters 1000 titles in Madrid, Cincinnati (twice), and Paris. Throw in titles at Halle, Basel (three times), Stockholm, Qatar, and Estoril. Federer’s career post 2007 is an upper tier hall of fame career in and of itself.