If the game of tennis disappeared today, Roger Federer would still go down as the greatest player to ever play.
I never saw Rod Laver play, so Federer gets my vote. Mostly because Federer's main adversary has been perhaps the future greatest player to ever play tennis is Rafael Nadal.
Nadal has been No. 1 in the world for a while now, but deep down I thought Federer still had the edge on hard and grass courts. I fully expected him to win Wimbledon this year, not fall in five sets to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals yesterday.
The loss is very similar to day when Tiger Woods officially lost his place at the top and has yet to recover from. Remember the 2009 PGA Championship? That was the first time Tiger Woods lost a major when he went into the final day with the lead. Woods then got caught cheating on his wife with 23,751 different women and he has roughly had the same amount of different swings in attempts to regain his form.
Well, Federer's loss yesterday was the first time in a grand slam he led by two sets to none and ended up losing. Federer is now 178-1 in Grand Slam matches after taking the first two sets. That's an impressive record, but that one is going to be the one that represents his fall.
Now Federer's decline won't be as drastic or quick as Woods' downward spiral. No, Federer will probably have a Pete Sampras-like moment and storm through one final major. But it would be shocking if he won more than a single Grand Slam during the remainder of his career.
It wasn't just this Wimbledon match that leads me to believe Federer doesn't have the fire anymore. In last month;s French Open, he should have taken the first set from Nadal, but choked it away. In the second set, he fought to break back against Nadal, only to lose his next service game. So either Federer has lost a bit of his formerly ruthless killer instinct, or his game has declined just enough so that he can't act on that killer instinct.
It was a great run, Roger. You still have your Grand Slam quarterfinals appearances streak, but we all know that's not good enough for the man who has hats, shirts and jackets embroidered with your initials.
The Righteous Brothers - Little Latin Lupe Lu