'Scaling' Federer's achievements. A 'measuring' perspective.roger federer achievements records king of kings tennis champion comparisons measuring greatness steffi graf opinion debate discussion sport
Posted 20 July 2012 - 07:24 AM
I have been reading famed journalists who have gone on to 'praise' Roger Federer for having triumphed at Wimbledon (after writing him off only a few weeks earlier), but what has caught my fancy now is how they try to 'measure' his greatness and reigniting the "GOAT" debate¹ through various, newer references.
In one of the more interesting - shall I say? - comparisons that I have read recently, they pondered over using Stefanie Maria Graf as a yardstick to measure Roger Federer's greatness.
Steffi Graf. One of the greatest athletes - man or woman - to have wielded a tennis racquet. Period.
I find it rather amusing when - especially out of sheer desperation - tennis analysts compare achievements across gentlemen's and ladies' tennis. I find it unfair, first and foremost, because one group has to play best-of-five rubbers while the other, best-of-three². And secondly, it doesn't do justice - to both the men and the women in question. Comparing achievements across the sexes, therefore, becomes an apples-to-oranges comparison. 'Nuff said.
But this one time - I did allow myself to play along with the idea.
Because... It truly is a queer one-off occasion (and a rather special one, too) when both athletes in focus have towered over the rest of the field (in most of the areas concerned).
So... Why compare Steffi Graf (second on the all-time GS title winners list among the ladies) and Roger Federer (all-time GS title leader among men)? Simple. Because Margaret Court's titles have stretched across pre-Open & Open eras.
Now, lets proceed straight to the heart of things. And believe me, for once, it probably does make sense (at least it seems so!) to make this comparison.
» Calendar Golden Slam (1988)
» 22 Grand Slam titles - Open Era record (men & women)
» 22/9 in GS finals @ 70.96% winning percentage.
» All-court champion. Has won each Grand Slam at least 4 times.
» Won on ReboundAce, Clay, Grass & DecoTurf surfaces.
» 13 straight finals between French 1987 & French 1990 (both included); 15-straight semifinals; 19-straight quarter-finals.
» Reached finals of all four slams in a calendar year 3 times. (1988, 1989, 1993)
» 186 consecutive weeks as World# 1. 377 weeks in all.
» Finished as year-end World# 1 on eight occasions.
» 1987 & 1989: made finals of every tournament she participated.
» 5 year-end championships³.
» 18 WTA Tier I titles (Premier events).
» Although the Olympics is a prestigious event, it quadrennial and I am among that fraternity which thinks winning the calendar golden slam (leave alone Olympic Gold) is all about circumstances. But yes: reduce the stakes by a notch to calendar grand slam, yes, Roger has fallen short at the final hurdle - thrice.
» 17 titles, in a best-of-five format, is pretty darn good in my humble opinion.
» 17/7 in GS finals @ 70.83% winning percentage.
» At least 5 finals at each Grand Slam. That is all-court, too.
» Won on ReboundAce, PlexiCushion, Clay, Mixed-Rye grass, 100% Rye grass & DecoTurf surfaces.
» 18/19 finals between Wimbledon 2005 & Australian 2010 (10-straight, semi, 8-straight). And had it not been for a bout of mononucleosis/glandular fever4 at the Australian 2008, it could have been 19-straight. Oh... And the small matter of an otherwise 23-straight semifinals and 33-straight quarter-finals.
» Reached finals of all four slams in a calendar year 3 times. (2006, 2007, 2009). And the one year (at his peak) when he failed, he went 81-4 for the whole year. Yes, I am referring to 2005.
» 237 consecutive weeks as World #1. Open era record (men & women). 377 weeks will be a challenge. Possible - with a combination of luck and Fedgendary5 tennis.
» First is the need to finish as year-end World# 1 for a sixth time, before the focus turns to eight. But it's another BIG challenge.
» Won 24-straight finals. But that doesn't come close to Graf's sterling performances in '87 & '89.
» 6 year-end championships.
» 20 Master's 1000 titles.
As evidenced by this twelve-point comparison, it is like I'd mused above... It does - in an odd way - make sense to have compared these two legends. For one, just because Federer isn't leading Graf in this comparison doesn't mean he is completely blown away statistically either. It isn't lopsided and like I've mentioned, a combination of luck and some truly Fedgendary tennis means anything can happen... At bare minimum, the 'seeming gap' will be narrowed.
¹ If you ask me, the "GOAT" debate doesn't make sense. Even more so, across genders. Hypothesizing how Federer would have performed in an era of wooden racquets or how Laver would have fared had he not missed those years as Pro, etc. is pure tommyrot and utter hogwash. In an era defined by today's tennis - where surfaces, although arguably homogenized in favour of longer rallies, are different/unique in certain ways as opposed to what they were in aeons past - if Federer's (and yes, Graf) achievements aren't considered great, then one is either blind or completely loopy.
² The year-end championships for ladies (between 1984 & 1998) had a best-of-five final. That was the ONLY time women had to play a best-of-five match in the entire season.
³ Steffi Graf has played and won best-of-five matches. All of her victories during the women's year-ending championships have gone to either four or five sets. Unbelievable..? Believe it..!
4 Don't take the ailment lightly... It has knocked out people like Mario Ancic, Andy Roddick, John Isner, Radek Stepanek & Robin Söderling to name a few.
5 Yes, I claim the copyrights © for coining that word - Federer+Legendary='Fedgendary' - and it has gathered close to 100 likes on the ATP website. ;^)
- - -
Over to you... Play!
Posted 20 July 2012 - 07:38 PM
Frankly, I am not in favour of comparison amongst legends spread across ages. That's why, I have given away the temptation of writing on Laver vs Federer or Nadal vs Borg , as I feel such a comparison won't be fair & unreasonable.
Coming back to the comparison between Steffi Graf & Roger Federer (two of the most successful Tennis champions), first & foremost, I really gotta say, I consider myself lucky to have been born in the Graf era, of those 22 grand slams, I still remember having seen at least 14 grand slams .
So, if I compare Steffi's achievement to Federer's achievements, that will be very unfair on my part.
& JFI, I am in one of those camps who believe that the prize money should be same for Ladies & Men, so for all those people, who think that ladies can't play 5 setters, they just need to go back & see the achievement of Steffi Graf .
Posted 20 July 2012 - 08:47 PM
There is no doubt what Steffi or Margaret Court achieved is none less than what Roger Federer has achieved, thou, I am hardly any one to comment whose achievement is bigger ..
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Posted 21 July 2012 - 12:01 AM
Of course... Like I said - I hardly compare, too. But this one (after reading so many journalists) seemed a tad different from the other comparisons we so often see flying around on the internet.
Oh yes - I remember some of Graf's titles too. Her shot making was spectacular. How can one forget the name that made her famous: "Fräulein Forehand"
Yep - times are changing and it is best to stay with the times. Equal pay is right up there...
Posted 21 July 2012 - 12:03 AM
Thank you. I'm glad you like it.
And yes... We are lucky to be on-lookers and capable to attempt a comparison 'without' pronouncing a judgement. Sometimes, it is nice to see the numbers side-by-side and marvel at achievements instead of pouncing on conclusions.
That was my motive. Hope I've done it some justice.
Posted 21 July 2012 - 12:50 AM
During the post Monica Seles stabbing era, there is no doubt, Graf proved, she was invincible & no, I am not trying to start a pre & post stabbing debate here ..
Coming back to achievements comparison, if you ask me, Graf's achievements have the same meaning as that of Roger Federer & if only one player of the open era has to be chosen, then Graf & Federer should be rated equally .
Posted 21 July 2012 - 06:13 AM
True - the what-ifs will always cause a perennial debate. Best to leave things as they are. And right as they are, at the present moment, Federer & Graf have well and truly demonstrated through sheer virtue of their respective performances that they do deserve all the superlatives that come their way.
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.
Posted 23 July 2012 - 03:09 AM
Horrible tennis analysts and Federer-bashers who, in my opinion, ought to be banned from publishing articles. :/
Apart from being a fan, I am a Federer-critic myself (and I know a few others, too) - but having morons like those I've mentioned above vexes me to no known end.
I couldn't care less if they do NOT appreciate him. But constantly pass backhanded comments on his achievements? And belittle his portfolio? That too, in columns of reputed websites? That's being plain pathetic!
Heck! I think I found the subject for my next article...
//End of aggravated rant.//
Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:18 PM
But even at this point, ignoring the masculine|feminine divide, it must be said... Steffi Graf still does rule the roost. No arguments there. And yes, it probably is a bit too much to expect Federer to go past her achievements. If Mount Sampras was a tall order, Mount Graf is even more gargantuan!
Gotta enjoy them for what they are.
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