Grand SlamsRoger Federer

Ranking Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slam Victories – Part 2

Numbers 10 Through 1

And we’re back! I get the feeling that many of you did not very much agree with yesterday’s post. And by “I get the feeling,” I mean that I can read and comprehend comments.

In case you missed it yesterday, here’s the start of my list featuring numbers 20 – 11.

I understand that there are many lines of thought in ranking something like this. Let’s face it; it’s hard to call any victory in a grand slam tournament “Unimpressive.” It’s probably impossible. It’s like trying to take 20 puppies and decide which is the least cute.

dogs

There are not 20 puppies there. Surprisingly, doing a Google search for “20 cute puppies gif” doesn’t bring up any results with 20 puppies. You would think that at this stage of the internet there would be hundreds of gifs of any number of puppies doing anything you could imagine. Come on, internet.

Regardless, here’s the conclusion of our list. Perhaps we’ll agree more today. Probably not, but perhaps.

10. Wimbledon 2004

Wimbledon 2004

Seeds defeated: Roddick (2), Grosjean (10), Hewitt (7)

Sets lost: 2

In the second of his eventual eight wins at Wimbledon, Federer defeated three of the tournament’s top-10 seeds including 2nd-seed Andy Roddick. While unseeded, Ivo Karlovic also offered a tricky matchup.

Despite an itinerary that would have looked somewhat difficult on paper, Federer reinforced his status as the world’s best player with a dominant run throughout the fortnight.

He dropped two sets and initially ran into an inspired Roddick in the final; however, a rain delay had fortuitous timing and Federer was able to shift the momentum and run away with the match afterwards. On the way, he also defeated 7th-seed Lleyton Hewitt and 10th-seed Sebastian Grosjean in the quarters and semis respectively.

9. Wimbledon 2012

Roger Wimbledon 2012

Seeds defeated: Murray (4), Djokovic (1), Youzhny (26), Benneteau (29)

Sets lost: 5

Another special tournament for Federer as he ended – at the time – the longest gap in his career between grand slam triumphs. More than two years removed from his most recent win in Melbourne in 2010, few were tipping the Swiss to lift the trophy. Novak Djokovic had thoroughly beaten him in the semifinals of the French Open only weeks earlier.

The lack of expectation amplified when Federer found himself in a 2 set deficit to Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the 3rd round; however, he fought himself out of that hole and then played well enough to defeat overmatched opponents in Xavier Malisse and Mikhail Youzhny.

Finally, Federer found his vintage game just in time to take on World Number 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. Interestingly, 2012 Wimbledon marks the only time that Federer has defeated a grand slam tournament’s top seed en route to winning the title. That being said, he was the top seed so often that opportunities were limited.

The Swiss took on an inspired Murray in the final. After dropping the first set, Federer produced two magical drop volleys in a row to wrestle the second set away.

Soon after, rain forced the Centre Court roof to be closed, and the momentum seemed to change for good with the 6-time champion running away to earn his 7th triumph.

The level of competition that Federer was able to defeat was potent. Still, he also seemed inconsistent, albeit at times when he had a margin for error, against Benneteau and Malisse.

8. Wimbledon 2007

Wimbledon Final 2007

Seeds defeated: Nadal (2), Gasquet (12), Ferrero (20), Safin (26)

Sets lost: 3

The site of arguably his greatest triumph until this year over his arch-nemesis, Federer defeated Rafael Nadal in an epic 5-set final to cap an otherwise solid tournament.

The Swiss matched the legendary achievement of Bjorn Borg in winning his fifth consecutive title at the All-England Club and defeated four seeded players along the way. He did receive a walkover in dodging a potentially tricky match against 13-seed Tommy Haas in the 4th round.

Federer had only one trip-up before the final in dropping a set in the quarterfinals to Juan Carlos Ferrero. Still, he otherwise dominated 26-seed Marat Safin and 12-seed Richard Gasquet en route to his battle against Nadal.

In that final, the most grievous of cracks in Federer’s grass-court armour were apparent as Nadal’s serve was broken only once in the first four sets and the Swiss Maestro’s frustration boiled over in an argument with Chair Umpire Pascal Maria about turning off the Hawkeye Review system. Eventually, Federer found his top-form just in time and won the final four games of the match including playing a stunning return game at 3-2 to earn the crucial first break of the final set.

A fun fact about this tournament: Federer’s 2nd round opponent was a young Argentinian named Juan Martin del Potro.

7. Wimbledon 2017

Federer Wimbledon 2017 Trophy

Seeds defeated: Cilic (7), Berdych (11), Raonic (6), Dimitrov (13), Zverev (27)

Sets lost: 0

Of all the blasphemy that some might detect in this list, I suspect that his might incite some of the strongest opposition.

That being said, I also think that the tennis world is in a state of awe over Federer’s resurgence this year to the point that it is somewhat blinded by the fact that the Swiss has indeed played much better tournaments than this year’s edition of The Championships.

Every single one of Federer’s chief rivals, aka the Big Four, was defeated by a different opponent and the two highest seeds that the Swiss did have to face down in Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic both played far from their best tennis.

But Federer was still stunning in this tournament, just not as much so as in the top-6 of these rankings. He didn’t drop a single set and at times looked utterly dominant. In particular, the flashbacks that many fans experienced during this fortnight were inspired not only by the eventual result of the tournament but also by some fearsome Federer forehands with incredible injections of pace.

6. Wimbledon 2005

Wimbledon 2005

Seeds defeated: Roddick (2), Hewitt (3), Gonzalez (21), Ferrero (23)

Sets lost: 1

Federer won his third consecutive title at the All-England Club in dominant fashion. The 2005 edition of Wimbledon marked the only time that the Swiss defeated two of the top-3 seeds en route to a grand slam trophy.

The Swiss looked at his imperious best in defeating Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets to finish the tournament. Federer also defeated seeded opponents Fernando Gonzalez and Juan Carlos Ferrero during his dominant run, although we're playing on what was likely their worst surface.

The World Number 1 dropped only a single set throughout the tournament, and his overall level of play was simply astounding.

5. U.S. Open 2004

Us Open 2004

Seeds defeated: Hewitt (4), Henman (5), Agassi (6), Pavel (16), Santoro (31)

Sets lost: 3

Federer’s first triumph on the then-green hardcourts of Flushing Meadows was one of the most impressive of the five straight wins that were to come.

Federer defeated three of the tournament’s top-6 seeds in consecutive matches. He dominated 4th-seed Lleyton Hewitt in the final and 5th-seed Tim Henman in the semis. 34-year-old 6th-seed Andre Agassi offered the only real challenge of the tournament in taking Federer to 5 sets.

The Swiss defeated five seeded players overall and was truly in a class of his own as he dropped only three sets (one to Marcos Baghdatis in the 2nd round) en route to his third grand slam title of the season.

4. Australian Open 2004

Ao 2004

Seeds defeated: Ferrero (3), Nalbandian (8), Hewitt (15)

Sets lost: 2

Federer’s run through the second week of what would eventually become his first championship in Australia featured one of the most difficult quartets in his grand slam career.

Home favourite Lleyton Hewitt was still in his absolute prime at this point despite his ranking having fallen due to both taking a break from the tour and having been upset in the first round of Wimbledon the previous year.

Federer’s next matches saw him take on one of his greatest rivals in the early stages of his career in Argentinean David Nalbandian and then 2003 U.S. Open finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero. The Swiss won all three of those potentially challenging matches in a reliable fashion, dropping only a single set each to Hewitt and Nalbandian.

The final test was against unseeded Marat Safin. The Russian’s lack of a number next to his name on scoreboards did not affect his dominant run through the draw, defeating Americans James Blake, 1st-seed Andy Roddick, and 4th-seed Andre Agassi in consecutive matches to reach the final.

That run may have tapped Safin’s energy reserves, however, as Federer dominated the Russian in straight sets en route to his second major title. The win also elevated the Swiss to the world number 1 ranking for the first time. It would not be until the summer of 2008 that he would have any other number next to his name.

3. Australian Open 2007

Ao 2007

Seeds defeated: Gonzalez (10), Roddick (6), Robredo (7), Djokovic (14), Youzhny (25)

Sets lost: 0

This is when the list starts to get even harder to order. After all, this particular tournament run looks incredible, having just listed those two first line items. Five top-25 players defeated – three in the top-10 – and zero sets lost.

Once again, Federer was on another level from the rest of the field. His wins over Mikhail Youzhny and then-19-year-old Novak Djokovic in the 3rd and 4th rounds were comprehensive and predictable. His ensuing dominance of 7th-seed Tommy Robredo was similarly expected.

It was in the final two rounds of the tournament when Federer played some of the best tennis I’ve ever seen. The straight-sets shellacking of Andy Roddick was as one-sided of a major semifinal as I’ve ever seen.

Fernando Gonzalez was on fire coming into the final in Melbourne. He had destroyed three top-12 opponents – Tommy Haas, Rafael Nadal, and James Blake – in a row in straight sets. To his credit, the Chilean did not play poorly in the final but rather drew out Federer’s top form en route to the Swiss finishing off a dominant fortnight.

2. Australian Open 2017

Ao 2017

Seeds defeated: Nadal (9), Wawrinka (4), Nishikori (5), Berdych (10)

Sets lost: 7

Ironically, the major title in which Federer lost the most sets is one of his most impressive triumphs.

A large portion of what makes this tournament earn such a secure place on this list is the fact that it came out of nowhere. After six months away from the game and nearly five years without a major title, Federer suddenly caught fire in the 3rd round against 10th-seed Tomas Berdych. The Czech himself said afterwards that he had never seen Federer play better.

berdych

The Swiss defeated four top-10 seeds overall in the tournament and also won three five-setters en route to the title. After his masterclass against Berdych, Federer out-lasted a spirited effort from 5th-seed Kei Nishikori styled on Mischa Zverev and won a slugfest over his countryman, 4th-seed Stan Wawrinka to set up one of the most anticipated clashes in tennis history. Overall, it’s certainly arguable that the level of competition that Federer faced in this tournament is the strongest of any of his 20 triumphs.

Federer vs Nadal in this year’s Australian Open final was one of the most unexpected and incredible spectacles in not just tennis, but all sports. In what was one of his most impressive, unpredictable tournament triumphs, the Swiss had the appropriate final crown jewel to finish the job: Coming back when all looked lost against his arch-nemesis in the 5th set of the final while producing several jaw-dropping winners.

1. U.S. Open 2007

Xxx Us Open Federer Trophy Rd568.jpg S Ten Usa Ny

Seeds defeated: Djokovic (3), Davydenko (4), Roddick (5)

Sets lost: 2

This might not be the most memorable of Federer’s 19 grand slam wins. It didn’t have the surprise of the 2017 Australian Open, the dominance of the 2007 Australian Open, the record-breaking achievements of Wimbledon in 2007, 2009, or 2017, and it didn’t have the special occasion of 2009 Roland Garros.

But it was the right combination of dominance, very high level of play, and healthy competition.

Federer dropped a pair of sets throughout the tournament, but cannot necessarily be faulted for either as one was to serving machine John Isner in a tiebreak, and the other was to Spain’s Feliciano Lopez who came out of the gates in their 4th round match on fire. Ironically, Federer’s performance against Lopez may have been his best match of the tournament, but that’s not to say that others were poor. The level of play in that match was just off the charts.

In the end, Federer defeated three of the tournament’s top-5 seeds in the quarterfinals, semis, and final and all of them in straight sets. 3rd-seed Novak Djokovic had announced his arrival as a real contender and a solid third player in the world behind Federer and Rafael Nadal earlier in the summer. Indeed this was not the same Djokovic that we saw between 2011 and mid-2016, but he was still a formidable foe who had just beaten Federer weeks earlier. Meanwhile, 5th-seed Andy Roddick was again playing excellent tennis and performed admirably in front of his home crowd in the quarterfinals. 4th-seed Nikolay Davydenko was in his prime at this point but also was unable to slow the Fed Express.

The Swiss swept them all aside en route to what was then his 12th grand slam championship and his fourth consecutive at Flushing Meadows.

Geoff Bruce

Tennis fan and writer. I have written about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets.

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58 Comments

  1. During the past two weeks of work-from-home I took a few breaks and watched a few highlights of USO 2004-2007 matches.
    I got tired because of the supersonic pace and don’t understand why the umpire let each set of balls be used for more than 3 games.
    I don’t see any of the current baseline bashers standing a chance in those days.

  2. I would personally have Aus Open 2017 , Wimbledon 17 and 12 and also french open higher. Aus open because of the injury comeback and beating Rafa in the final. I think Wimbledon 2012 is one of his most impressive ever wins due to Murray’s standard in the final and how flawless and clutch fed was from the end of the second set (he also had back trouble against malisse). Wimbledon 2017 for me gets a little overshadowed by the non event that was the final but i don’t think anyone was getting close to fed over those two weeks, the way he dismantled raonic by playing so freely was insane, I just remember being amazed by how hard and cleanly he was hitting his forehand throughout the tournament. And then I would have the french open higher due to how clutch he was in the big moments when it really mattered against haas, del Potro and then playing one of his greatest ever tie breaks in the final. The amount of pressure he must have been under once Rafa lost must have been huge. Great list though, can’t argue with the rest

  3. Ouuuuuu I was wrong on Wimby 12 and AO 17 occupying the first two places 😁 but I get the logic. Very very nice callbacks, by the way!
    I think a few of the more distant Slams are a bit overshadowed by the fact that Nole and Rafa were younger but also had indeed much more competition than nowadays (Rafa lost 3-0 to Gonzalez in AO 07, and he was already a finalist in Wimby), and so we didn’t see as many clashes between the big ones as it was foreseeable because they were stopped much more often than now (at least for Rafa on HC, Nole wasn’t indeed the Djoker). So I am very happy that many past slam were kept very high into consideration and that you made justice to those
    Though emotionally nothing beats AO 17, IMHO, and nothing would have beaten a certain Slam, had Roger scored an ace last July when needed….

      1. Actually it was my question for him in the contest that Jonathan started some months ago to ask Roger himself some questions…

  4. My top 5 with my insane reasons
    1. AO17 – first official competition since 6 months break, fought point by point against Nadal and boy that BH…its delicious.
    2. FO09 – for past 4 years its been annual let’s whoop Roger on clay, Nadal early exit suddenly everyone in tennis world is expecting Roger to win. Omg he nearly falter towards finishing line.
    3. USO08 – after painful 3 GS losses, he fought hard and showed so much emotion.
    4. AO07 – perfect 10 performance didn’t drop a single set. Annihilate Roddick and looking super supreme
    5. USO07 – Darth Fed, all black so James Bond GQ like

    Special mention – Wimby17 – FH was lethal and not dropping a set, last GS win on Nike

      1. Too bad Fed missed the gold medal a few weeks later, but maybe he was overcooked after the semi-final…

  5. I don’t know how to measure this, it’s so difficult. I’ll try to take everything into account:

    1) Australian Open 2017
    2) Australian Open 2007
    3) Wimbledon 2012
    4) Australian Open 2004
    5) US Open 2007
    6) US Open 2004
    7) Wimbledon 2005
    8) Wimbledon 2007
    9) US Open 2005
    10) US Open 2006
    11) Wimbledon 2009
    12) Wimbledon 2004
    13) Wimbledon 2017
    14) Australian Open 2010
    15) Roland Garros 2009
    16) Wimbledon 2003
    17) Wimbledon 2006
    18) US Open 2008
    19) Australian Open 2006
    20) Australian Open 2018

  6. Hi everyone,
    Thanks so much for this Geoff. So detailed…you know your stuff!

    Dippy, I think my list is the same as yours! What would Roger’s list look like? Hope everyone is well and being creative at home.

  7. No matter what Roger will always be Wimbledon’s greatest. Rafa will be French Open greatest. And I guess Novack can be considered AO greatest. My favorite of all the grand slams is Wimbledon (this coming from an American). The others are beautiful stadium but Wimbledon started in 1877 and to me history matters. Actually the same applies to the British Open in golf. Very athletic you Brits.

      1. Hard to pick, Federer and Sampras are up there, Fed’s 5 in a row is a pretty huge feat considering nobody has defended it since…

    1. Nah, the French Open is the best major tournament of all four: great organization, well prepared for inclement weather, quiet and respectful crowd especially towards foreign players, etc, etc.
      (where did I put my pills?)

    1. Yeah the Sergetti method.

      I have not tried it but I’ve seen it a few times. I think there are a few players who use it. Marcus Willis who Fed played at Wimbledon a few years back was stringing with that method.

      I don’t really know enough about it, meant to have some benefits for tension maintenance, feel etc. But I’d need to test it.

  8. Hey, Jon, not being at the office, I don’t get notifications when you post new threads at the moment. Is it just your phrasing, or did you actually write some of this 3 years ago? 🙂

    1. When did you post them?

      I moved the site to a different server yesterday, so if the DNS hadn’t fully propagated, there’s a chance the comment you left was on the ‘old’ site, and I had taken a backup before you left it…

  9. Sorry to change the subject but I have terrible news today in the U.S. First, the US Food and Drug Administration relaxed its rules, and now companies can sell antibody tests without submitting validation data that shows they actually work.

    The American Public Health Lab Association says that has resulted in “crappy” tests flooding the market.

    The test can help determine if someone is immune to coronavirus, “and that’s going to be important when you think about getting people back into the workplace,” according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the task force.

    “The antibody test says you were infected and if you’re feeling well, you’ve very likely recovered,” Fauci said. “As we look forward, as we get to the point of at least considering opening up the country as it were, it’s very important to appreciate and to understand how much that virus has penetrated society.” Unfortunately this applies to all testing being done in the U.S.

    I HOPE YOUR EUROPEN SCIENTIST ARE UP TO THE TASK. WE NEED YOUR HELP!

    1. The confusion arose because there are two different ways to “test”:
      1-Direct test for the virus presence: you are testing for the virus itself, based on its RNA sequence.
      2-Indirect test for antibodies that *your body* produced *after* you have been exposed to the virus.
      You can have a positive test for none, one or both. Each of the 4 combinations yields a different conclusion:
      1) and 2) are negative: you have never been in contact with the virus.
      Only 1) is positive: you have been contaminated but the virus is not acting yet.
      Only 2) is positive: you have been contaminated in the past and either have recovered from what looked like a normal flu or you immune system was so strong that it took care of the business without you even knowing. You should be OK for years to come.
      1) and 2) positive: Too bad. To bed.

    1. Yeah guess they had to change it. I wonder if any tennis will be played this year? Something very weird going on with corona.

  10. Testing, testing, 1,2,3. Yesterday it was saying Hi Jonathan in the upper rt corner. Now, it doesn’t know me anymore. Quite upsetting after all these years.

  11. Just a few hours after my comment today I have to type my name and so on again. Of course I click in the “Save my name…” and so on. It worked one time (only)

  12. Well, on other news we’ve hit the inflation mark of 5% for last month, and it’s expected to keep rising since the gov printed more than 30% of the current monetary base (and more than 80% in the last 6 months) with a currency that nobody wants.
    The only fucking country in the world heading to an hyperinflation by it’s own policy.

    Luckily there’s always something to see on the internet. I’ve been watching the full match of Nalbandian-Federer Australian Open 2004.

  13. Tend to agree with most of the list using the logic of most impressive level of play, but if you use ‘most memorable’ then some of the others jump a bit higher up the list. My top 5 most memorable would be AO 2017, WB 2017, WB 2007, FO 2009 and WB 2012, though part of that is recency bias as I was too young to remember the earlier ones at the time, only watch replays.

    On COVID, it does seem like testing is the answer, South Korea seem to be doing fairly well. Also the countries that locked down early seemed to get a handle on it quite well, Australia for instance.

  14. Hey Geoff, great posts & great ranking. Thank you for that. For me, the number 1 most important victory has to be AO 2017. Not because he won a slam after 4,5 years, but because after he was behind in the 5th set… he just didn’t want to lose. Seve made a remark about that. He said Roger lost before, difficult losses, but this time he just didn’t want to lose. That is also why I like the Wimby 2017 win. He also had that attidude there.
    Too bad he couldn’t do it exactly two years later during you know when 🙂 I won’t go there… I won’t talk about it…
    #lastyearthatwholemonthjustdidnothappen 🙂

  15. Hey guys, if you are on Twitter, this is your chance to get a tweet from the Goat… Apparently Roger is tweeting with Gifs left and right 🙂 So take your chance… I am still waiting on mine 🙂

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