By winning in Stuttgart, Roger Federer made his return to the #1 ranking for a men’s record 310th week. He and Rafael Nadal are in a virtual dead heat at the top of the current rankings, with only a few points separating them for most of the last half year. Both men currently hold two slam titles and four other titles. Rafa holds four titles on clay and two on hard. Roger has four on hard and two on grass.
Who is really at the top of the game?
Right now Roger has the edge with his ranking points just inching ahead of Nadal, but in asking who is the most dominant player in the sport right now, the answer is unclear. Both men have compiled a year’s worth of amazing results. This is exactly the type of drama we live for in sport. Two greats at the top of the game, Clash of the Titans, the battle for #1 hangs in the balance.
For the immediate future, the advantage is with Nadal, but the ball is in Federer’s court. That’s because, in order to stay #1, Federer has to win his next two tournaments: the 500 in Halle, and Wimbledon which is worth 2000 points to the winner. But Nadal has a say too, because if Nadal makes the quarter-finals at Wimbledon then Nadal becomes #1 no matter what Federer does.
These two are out of this world
We are truly in the presence of greatness with these two. Nadal’s eleven French Open crowns are almost incomprehensible. That’s as many as Bjorn Borg won at the French and Wimbledon combined. And Federer’s 20 slam titles are unprecedented in men’s tennis.
When we consider Federer’s age, it is even more boggling. He just attained the #1 ranking at the age of 36.88. That’s three and a half years older than the next oldest player, Andre Agassi, was (33.36) when he was last ranked #1 in Sep 2003. And Nadal is not far behind at 32.04.
When Wimbledon begins in two weeks, Federer will set an all-time men’s record by being in the top ten for 819 weeks, one week more than the venerable Jimmy Connors. Third on the list is Andre Agassi with 747 weeks, and then Nadal with 689. Nadal is younger than Federer was at the same number of weeks, so Rafa is on track to break Roger’s record if he stays in the top ten to the same age as Roger does.
But in considering the #1 ranking, Roger is definitely ahead. Rafa got to 170 weeks ranked at #1 when he was 31.87 years old, but Roger got there six years sooner when he was only 25.72. And Roger is the only man to spend at least 300 weeks at #1. His 310 weeks are well ahead of Sampras with 286 weeks, and Nadal is in sixth place on this list with ‘only’ 177 weeks. But let’s not forget that women’s tennis shatters all these records, with Stephanie Graf at 377 weeks at #1.
The love of the game keeps Federer going
Federer doesn’t seem to care too much about any of this. At this stage of his career what he talks about is how he feels playing the game… and titles, especially slam titles like Wimbledon. Maybe he also cares a little bit about getting to 100 titles won – which he could do at Wimbledon if he wins three on grass this year; or breaking Connors’ record of 109 open era titles.
But it comes down to this: it’s nearly impossible to describe how magnificent Roger and Rafa have become. We end up talking about numbers when really, to appreciate them, you have to watch these two geniuses play… hit that ball, run, slide across the court, make the impossible angle, create artistry with their racquets and their wills – so that we can appreciate the beauty of this game of tennis as it’s never been sculpted before.
- Charles brings THE SLICE from Vancouver, Canada.