It feels like the end for Roger Federer. The greatest tennis player of all time no longer dominates and at times is over-matched. He comes to Wimbledon this week with questions about whether he will ever win another major title. Of course, he faced the same questions last year. After going nine straight majors without a title, Federer came back from a two set deficit to get by Julien Benneteau in the third round, and then knocked off the world's top player Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. He wore down fan favorite Andy Murray in the finals to secure his record tying seventh Wimbledon championship. The victory was his record 17th major title. Was it his last?
Since winning Wimbledon, the 31 year old has reached just one major semifinal. He fell in the quarters to Tomas Berdych in the U.S. Open. Andy Murray knocked him out of the Australian Open dominating Federer during the fifth set of their semifinal. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was a straight set winner against him during the quarters of the French Open. If he fails at Wimbledon, it is easy to ask whether he'll sail off into the sunset.
Federer has not only been a charismatic and dominating champion, he has done so during the golden era of the sport. Without winning another major tournament, Rafael Nadal, and Djokovic are among the 20 greatest players of all time. Nadal, a winner of 12 majors, has joined Federer as one of just seven players to complete the career grand slam. They are two of only three players to do so since the early 1960's.
The records that Federer has achieved are stunning. He was ranked number one for 237 straight weeks between 2004 and 2008. He reached each Grand Slam final at least five times. At one point he made 18 of 19 consecutive major finals. He has the most victories in Grand Slam tournaments. His 17 major championships are three more than Pete Sampras, five greater than Nadal and Roy Emerson, and six more than Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver. No modern era player has won the U.S. Open or Australian Open more frequently than Federer. In other words, he is as good or better than anybody over the last half century in three of the four majors. If it wasn't for Nadal being the greatest clay court player of all time, who knows how many French Open titles Federer might have won.
Federer is still a top five player. However, he is frequently an underdog when matched up against other elite players. His draw for Wimbledon is a bear. If he makes it to the quarterfinals he likely will face Nadal. Get by the Spaniard, and Murray may be waiting for him in the semis. Win those two matches and Federrer likely will see Djokovic in the finals. Winning on Wimbledon's law, Federer's favorite surface, this time would be among his all time great accomplishments. It seems highly unlikely. Doubting the greatest player of all time however doesn't seem like the best idea.