For those of you not familiar with tennis, Roger Federer has advanced to his 22nd consecutive Grand Slam semifinal. In case you're not sure how good that really is, the next best streak is 10 by Ivan Lendl.
In a sport where it is so easy to lose focus for a few minutes, Federer has never wavered in the first week and a half of a grand slam in the past 5 1/2 years. That statistic, along with his men's record of 15 grand slam singles titles, is more than enough proof to say he is the best ever to play the game.
No one player has ever dominated tennis, or any sport (sorry Tiger) like Federer.
Tennis' grand slams are on three different surfaces: clay, grass and hardcourts. Playing on different surfaces allows for certain players to be specialists. Spaniards are known for being the best clay court players in the world, while big servers have historically dominated Wimbledon's grass courts. Federer has found success on all surfaces.
The French Open and the red clay of Roland Garos was Federer's last obstacle in cementing is place in history with a career Grand Slam. Federer's critics like to say he is weak on clay, and that his victory at the French this year is less impressive because Rafael Nadal was hurt. And they are wrong.
Federer has been to four consecutive finals and five straight semifinals at Roland Garos. He has consistantly been the second best clay court player during this time. His only problem is that he goes up against the greatest clay court player to ever set foot on the court in Nadal. While it's true Federer didn't have to beat Nadal for the title this year, he did have to play great tennis for seven matches. He also rallied in several of those matches when lesser players would have folded.
The other critique of Federer that is popular is that he isn't facing the same level of competition as Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe to name a few. This is unfair. When you have a player as dominant as Federer, you don't really know how good the rest of the competition is.
Bear with me here. Andy Roddick has only won one grand slam despite being in five finals. He faced Federer in the other four. Who knows how many titles Roddick would have if it weren't for Federer. Then we would not be talking about how disappointing Roddick's career has been, but rather how he was one of the great American players of all time.
Nadal would also have several more titles if Federer was not there to stop him. So to say that his competition is not the same as what Sampras, Borg and Agassi had can't be an criticism. Perhaps Federer is just so much better, he makes others look bad.
Look back at some old footgae of McEnroe and Borg. Their form would be laughed at today, but because of technology it was how the game had to be played back then. To try and compare them to Federer and say they were better and had more competition is impossible to prove considering the technology and other changes in the game.
Federer has dominated his genereation of tennis like no one before him, and when he retires he will do so as the best to ever play. End of story.
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