Roger Federer will take to the hallowed turf once again this afternoon to take on old foe Rafael Nadal in one of the most anticipated tennis matches of the decade. The two will lock horns and the spectators will be hoping for another classic duel between them, in their first meeting at Wimbledon since that epic final in 2008 which is often regarded as the best tennis match of all time.
It certainly is a mouthwatering prospect but remarkably will only be the third time that the two giants of the game have met on grass. That epic Wimbledon win in 2008 is the only time Nadal has got the better of Federer on the green stuff but the eight-time Wimbledon champion has won six of the last seven meetings between the two greats.
Of course, the winner of this will have to beat the world number one Novak Djokovic in the final but another win at SW19 and Federer’s legacy as the best of all time is surely secured but let’s take a look at some of the statistics that support the case for the 37-year-old.
One of the best barometers for tennis success is the amount of Grand Slam titles an individual has won. Of course, Federer tops that particular chat at the moment, with 20 singles titles wins, although that will change by the end of the weekend. Nadal is on 18, but the dominant force of the past decade has been Novak Djokovic, a man who has scooped 14 Grand Slam titles since 2010, and 15 in total.
The Serb could well become the most successful of all time if keeps up his current rate of winning trophies but for now, Federer sits on top and will want to extend the gap between himself and Djokovic with a win over him in the Wimbledon final this year.
When it comes to the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, Federer is king. His win in 2017 made it eight successes at SW19, the most in history. Only William Renshaw, who won his titles before the Open Era, and dominant force during the 1990s Pete Sampras come close with seven wins apiece.
Federer has consistently performed during his career and this is shown by the fact that he has reached the most quarter-finals in history (55), the most semi-finals (45), and the most finals (30) as well as securing the most titles. The Swiss has been the influential figure in 21st-century tennis but his worthy adversaries have only made his achievements even more spectacular. In Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray, Federer has beaten some of the finest athletes the sport has ever seen on the biggest stages.
That same fact also makes each of the other three’s achievements exceptional as they have competed and battled against each other over the past decade. The age and unavoidable decline of these top players will be sad to watch but Djokovic could be the last one standing of the four and therefore clean up on the tour.
Although Djokovic may overtake Federer in terms of Grand Slam titles, in terms of being the greatest player of all time he doesn’t quite match him for me. That’s the thing, although we can look at statistics all we like, the ‘greatest of all time’ debate is a matter of opinion.
Federer epitomises everything that is beautiful about the sport. Graceful, technical and skillful, he is a joy to watch. For sheer competitiveness and will to win, Djokovic is your man and if you appreciate defensive tennis and a strong baseline game, Nadal can’t be beaten.
Let’s just enjoy these last few years of these three brilliant tennis players.