Federer’s 7 and 17

Roger Federer is Back on Top

Roger Federer won a 7th Wimbledon title and a record extending 17th major title.  He has returned to the #1 ranking.  Federer has now tied Sampras’ records for 7 Wimbledon titles and for total weeks at #1.  In one week, Roger will be the sole owner of the record for the most total weeks at #1.   This turn of events looked quite improbable during the final weekend of the 2012 French Open.

Federer Looked Mortal

Roger Federer’s losses to Novak Djokovic during the clay court season in Rome and Paris gave the impression that father time had eroded Federer’s mental toughness.  It was not that Federer was supposed to beat Djokovic, but failing to take a set or to at least force a tiebreak after breaking Djokovic 3 times seemed shocking.  Federer looked resigned to defeat in Paris.  As an admirer of Federer, this was hard to watch.

Federer Furthered His Standing in the Pantheon*

After Roger looked so mortal one month earlier, he rebounded to defeat Novak Djokovic in 4 sets in a semifinal rematch.  After reaching the championship round, Federer defeated Andy Murray.  Federer defeated 2 of the best return men in tennis by serving at a sublime level. The suddenly mortal Roger just etched an indelible mark into tennis history.

Roger can now make a claim to be the top grass court player in the Open Era (obviously that is a question open to debate).  However, Roger Federer’s 17 major titles as well as claiming an all-time record with the number 1 ranking further cements his case as the greatest player of all time.**  Rod Laver called Roger the greatest before he won on Sunday.  I will have more to say about Roger and Serena as the week progresses, but this seems like a good place to stop.

* – Bill Simmons coined the term pantheon for describing sports figures
The Pantheon
That’s a term my buddies and I created back in college, defined then and forever as “the highest level of transcendence.” Pantheon Guys endure; you remember them, regardless of whether they peaked for two seasons or 20. It doesn’t matter how long those guys were on top … just that they peaked, and we were there, and even if it only lasted for two seasons, you were saying to yourself, “Good Lord, that guy is good.”
** – Consider that Rafa became a Grand Slam champion and top tier player in 2005.  At the start of 2005 Roger had 4 6 Grand Slam titles.  In July 2012, Roger has 17 and Rafa has 11 Grand Slam titles.  The gap has actually increased in the time between Rafa becoming a Grand Slam champion.  Rafa is the best candidate for catching Roger due to already having banked 11 majors, but it is a long road to add 6 more.  Roger could realistically continue to add to his total as well.

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