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With Grand Slam, Number One Ranking, Federer Dominates Professional Tennis

By Shreyes Seshasai
STAFF COLUMNIST


Roger Federer is the best men’s tennis player I’m going to see in my lifetime, and I’m not even twenty. Over the past several years, he has joined the ranks of the few who have dominated the field so convincingly. Federer has held the world #1 ranking for 106 weeks and counting, and his 52-match winning streak on hard courts is unprecedented in the Open era. By the time he retires, he will be known as one of the greatest ever not because of the records he’ll set, but because of the way he’ll set them.

Last month, Federer won the Australian Open, beating unseeded Marcos Baghdatis in the finals. This was his tournament to win, given the lack of formidable opponents; other stars like Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, and defending champion Marat Safin all dropped out because of injuries. It also didn’t hurt to have Baghdatis pull three upsets, eliminating Andy Roddick, David Nalbandian, and Ivan Ljubicic.

Despite this, getting the title wasn’t easy. Federer faced several challenges in the second week, including going five sets against Tommy Haas in the fourth round. In the finals, he was down a set and a break to Baghdatis, before rallying to win in four sets. What distinguishes Federer is his toughness, his ability to outlast opponents and take control, even when he’s not at his best. In the end, he claimed his seventh Grand Slam title at age 24 (matching all-time record holder Pete Sampras when he was the same age), and retained his undefeated record in Grand Slam finals.

When you just consider the numbers Federer already has racked up, it’s hard to imagine how far he can go before he retires. He’s the first player since Sampras (12 years ago) to win three consecutive Grand Slam titles. But unlike the American, Federer can play and win on clay, and later this year at the French Open, he will try to complete the career Grand Slam, becoming the first man to do so since Agassi in 1999.

Federer first made his mark in the tennis world in 2001 when he ended Sampras’s four year winning streak at Wimbledon. Later that year, he single-handedly defeated the U.S. in Davis Cup play, contributing to all 3 of Switzerland’s points in a 3-2 victory.

These past two years, Federer has only lost 10 matches, winning 24 tournaments on every type of surface and holding a 10-1 record over American Andy Roddick.

In the years preceding Federer’s dominance, no other player had taken control of the men’s game. He will be the favorite in every tournament, and it’s clear that the older guard of players, like Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt, have ceded the honor to him. Unless a young gun like Nadal or Richard Gasquet steps up to present a true challenge, look for Federer to continue to hoist trophies for years to come.