There is no debate that when it comes to men’s singles tennis, Roger Federer is the G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time). Currently third in the ATP world rankings, but with 103 career titles to his name, Federer holds the record for the most Grand Slams with 20. His last came at the 2018 Australian Open and as we gear up to 2020’s tournament, let’s take a look at the Swiss Maestro’s career and future.
After years of dominance, injuries are starting to take their toll on the Swiss ace and this year he failed to win a major title. The two-time defending champion lost out in the fourth round of the first Grand Slam of the year. Rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas was FedEx’s opponent in Melbourne and the 14th seed turned around his losing start, going on to win 6–7(11-13), 7–6(7-3), 7–5, 7–6(7-5).
In June’s French Open, old foes Federer and Nadal met at the semi-final stage. The Spaniard is unstoppable on clay, his favoured surface, and so it proved again. He dispatched Federer in straight sets 6–3, 6–4, 6–2, before beating Dominic Thiem in the final to win a 12th French Open title, and yet another record.
Grass season came around and attention turned to Wimbledon. Federer reached the final here, his best performance of 2019’s Grand Slam calendar. Facing Novak Djokovic, the two played out the longest singles final in Wimbledon history. It took Djokovic four hours and 57 minutes to defeat Federer 7–6(7–5), 1–6, 7–6(7–4), 4–6, 13–12(7–3).
2019’s final Grand Slam, the US Open, saw Federer crash out in the quarter-finals. Unseeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who has fallen down the rankings to 78th in the world, rediscovered some of his old form to come from a set down and beat Federer 3–6, 6–4, 3–6, 6–4, 6–2.
If you’re looking at the latest odds on the Australian Open, you’ll find Federer slightly down the pecking order at odds of 17/2, behind his rivals Nadal and Djokovic, and world number 4 Daniil Medvedev.
Since the US Open, Federer has only played a handful of events: the Shanghai Masters, the Swiss Indoors (which he won) and the ATP finals. But after that, he’s decided that he won’t play in any professional tournaments for almost two months. It’s a move that could pay off – after all, he reached the semi-finals of the French Open after three years away from the clay court.
Of his decision not to partake in any of the Australian Open warm-up competitions, Federer said: “I think with age and experience I can be confident about what I do in training. I’ll travel to Melbourne early to give myself the best chance to be ready. I believe I can be ready. I don’t think I need a ton of matches especially on the hard courts but maybe I’m a bit more dependent on the draw early on at the Australian Open but the key is health and if I’m healthy I know stuff can be achieved.”
Since Federer last won a Grand Slam title, Djokovic has won four and Nadal has won three. His rivals are hot on the heels of his record, with the Serbian on 16 and the Spaniard just one behind on 19. You can’t help but feel that time is running out for FedEx. Should the other two members of the ‘Big Three’ stay fit, they have the potential of overtaking his tally.