The Reuters global sports blog
What the players say about Roger Federer
With the French Open trophy tucked under his arm at long last, it was job done for Roger Federer.
He now owns a record-equalling 14th grand slam crown and became only the sixth man to complete a career grand slam of the four majors.
So where does this leave him amongst the greats?
Pete Sampras, the man who knows his days in the record books are now numbered after Federer equalled his tally of 14 slams, Billie Jean King and Andre Agassi were quick to hail the Swiss master as the greatest ever racket-swinger in the sport.
Others were not so sure.
“Roger now has the best record in the Open era but it’s simply impossible to compare his records to the amateur era players,” Jim Courier, who competes on Outback Champions Series tennis circuit, told Reuters.
“With this win, I would put Roger’s record up against any of the all time greats and he still has plenty of runway to add to it if he stays healthy. The greatest open era achievements that spring to mind — (Rod) Laver’s slam, Sampras’s 14 majors. Sampras’s six years in a row as season ending number one, (Ivan) Lendl’s 8 U.S. Open finals in a row, Federer’s five Wimbledons and five U.S. Opens (and counting) in a row and Federer’s semifinal or better streak at a major (still counting).”
The American’s sentiment was also shared by Sweden’s Mats Wilander.
The one thing that there is no doubt about is that Federer is head and shoulders above everyone who has picked up a tennis racket when it comes to talent.
“Roger’s got too many shots, too much talent in one body,” Australian great Laver, observed.
“It’s hardly fair that one person can do all this — his backhands, his forehands, volleys, serving, his court position … the way he moves around the court, you feel like he’s barely touching the ground, and that’s the sign of a great champion.”
However, one cannot forget that Laver and Bjorn Borg could have hoarded many more than the 11 slams they each won if circumstances had not conspired against them.
Laver, the only man to have won two calendar Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969, was banned from entering the amateur-only grand slams from 1963 to 67 after turning professional.
Having remained dominant throughout the period, it is easy to speculate that Laver would almost certainly have won several more majors from the 20 he was forced to miss.
Borg won his first slam at 18 and by 26, he had turned his back on the sport.
The other thing also that needs to be taken into account is the hold his great rival Rafael Nadal has over him. The Spaniard has a 13-7 record over the Swiss, so how can a player who is being considered the greatest have such an inferior record against one of his own peers?
So where does that leave Federer in the pecking order?
The Swiss said: “I think it should be judged at the very end. How well did I do? Good? Great? Very good? Or medium? It’s for other people to decide.”
PHOTO: Roger Federer poses next to the Eiffel Tower during a photocall in Paris, June 8, 2009. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier