As 2013 draws to a close I am left to make an obligatory look back at the year that was. Roger Federer and his fans had a tough one and I think all of us want to put this year behind us and move forward. Much has been written about the Maestro’s fall from grace; many of his streaks and records have been broken. But I didn’t want to end the year on a sour note. So, I came up with my list of positives to take into the new year by looking into some of those record books.
No surprise, but it seems Roger’s worst year in a decade was still great enough to keep him high on several streak lists and bring him within touching distance of setting more records. As such I thought I could split the lists into two. 1. Streaks that are still ongoing (yes, he still has a few of those) and 2. Some records that he is very close to achieving. This is by no means comprehensive but rather meant to give a sense of where he still stands in the annals of tennis history despite 2013. So without further ado, here we go.
Here is a list of active streaks that are still ongoing for the Maestro as of December 2013:
- Winning at least one title every year for 13 consecutive years, 2001-2013 (tied with Connors, 1 year behind Lendl)
- Finishing in the top 10 for 12 consecutive years, 2002-2013. He is tied with Sampras and they are both behind Lendl with 13 years and Agassi (non-consecutive) and Connors each at 16 years.
- Finishing in the top 10 every year for 586 weeks consecutively. He is only 10 weeks behind Lendl and then he’ll move into 2nd place behind Connors.
- Qualifying AND appearing at the ATP World Tour Finals every year for 12 consecutive years, 2002-2013. He is tied with Lendl at 2nd place and behind Agassi with 13 years but Agassi’s record is not consecutive.
- Winning the ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite Award a record eleven years straight, 2003-2013. This award was created in 2000 when Kuerten won. 2001 and 2002 went to Safin. After that it’s been an absolute monopoly with Federer winning it every year since 2003.
- Winning the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the 9th time in total. Though this isn’t a streak, the only year Roger missed out on this award since 2004 was in 2010. It is fitting that the player with the 2nd most wins in the category is Mr. Stefan Edberg himself with 5.
- Tied with Wayne Ferreira for most consecutive appearances at the Grand Slams. They both appeared in 56 Grand Slams in a row, i.e. 14 years straight, 2000-2013; no withdrawals, no retirements.
Some records that he is very close to achieving:
- If he participates in the Australian Open 2014 he will surpass Ferreira and hold the record for most consecutive appearances at the Grand Slam level with 57.
- If he wins one more singles title he will surpass McEnroe and be 3rd in the all time titles list with 78 titles, behind Lendl and Connors.
- If he reaches one more Grand Slam QF he will tie Connors’ record in reaching 41 Grand Slam QFs.
- He is 7 matches away from being 4th in list of total number of career matches played; he is currently at 1,138 behind Agassi’s 1,144.
- He is 7 match wins away from being 3rd in total number of career match wins; he is currently at 923 behind Vilas’ 929.
Now remember, obviously I am not listing all the records he currently holds; they wouldn’t fit in one post. Besides, I have separate pages on this site dedicated to those. But I think even a cursory look at these reminded me of the greatness of Federer, of how he creates history with every match while mesmerizing us with every shot. The Maestro’s still got it and I am confident there is more to come.
I think we should also consider the fact that despite everything that’s happened this year, plus the fantastic year the top 5 had, he still finished 2013 ranked #6 in the world. I don’t think even he expected to end the year as high as he did and he takes that confidence into the coming year and rightly so; which in turn gives us fans plenty to be hopeful about as well 🙂
And to ensure that he starts off the new season right, he made sure he had a long off-season and trained hard. For doubters out there who thought retirement is nigh he has shown that he’s more motivated than ever.
- First, he utilized the entire off-season to train (post mini family vacation); he didn’t play any exhibitions this time.
- Second, he kept true to his word and went back to trying out a new racquet with a larger head size, though exact specifications aren’t confirmed as yet.
- Third, he finally gave us his 2014 schedule with 2 new additions and 3 subtractions. The subtractions were expected, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Gstaad. With the exception of Hamburg, he hardly has any points to defend in the other two so they won’t be missed. Of the new tournaments, we knew about Brisbane a while back. The only surprise came in the form of the Masters in Miami. Given his history with IMG I had thought we would never see Miami on his schedule but there it is. Some people think he won’t play in the end, or that it will be the first tournament to go if he wants a break. I actually have a strange feeling he’ll try his best to play there. A Masters can give a lot of valuable ranking points. Plus the schedule is such that even after Miami, he still gets a month off before Madrid.
- Last but not the least, his childhood idol Stefan Edberg is joining his coaching team for a total of 10 weeks spread throughout the year starting with the Australian Open. Earlier we heard that Edberg was in Dubai for a week giving his input to Roger and his team. The part-time coaching gig became official when Roger landed in Brisbane.
A few more ‘life events’ also happened off-court that I think will actually motivate him even more in 2014.
- He formed a new management agency with his agent Tony Godsick. We knew this might happen but we got confirmation in the off-season. The agency is called “Team 8 Global” and already represents Delpo. Rumors are that they have snatched up Dimitrov as well. Roger will focus on his playing career for now and this is a platform for him once he is ready to stop playing. But I think he’ll play on tour for a while, ensuring that this agency can get established. In the meantime he will still be on tour getting to know future players they can possibly sign later.
- His charity organization the Roger Federer Foundation just completed its 10th anniversary and to celebrate it plus the 10th anniversary of winning his first Australian Open, Roger is doing an “RF & Friends” night, an exhibition match with Tsonga right before the Australian Open starts. There will also be a tribute to Rod Laver as well. The longer he stays on tour, the more easily he can organize events like this to raise funds.
- Last but probably the biggest news: Mirka and Roger will have their 3rd child in 2014! Roger announced the happy news on Christmas Day and while some think this will distract him, I think otherwise. I think Mirka and Roger are pros at this. Most people thought they would slow down after the twins but they’ve managed fine with them in tow for over 4 years. As long as Mirka and the baby are both healthy, I see no reason for Roger to cut back on his schedule. Who knows, maybe the new baby could see a Grand Slam win too, just like the twins 😀
So there you have it. A quick look at some of his numbers and records of 2013 indicate that a bad year for the Swiss is still a very good year by many standards. In addition, given the surge in performance in the last few tournaments of 2013, his hard work off-season and all the new changes he is making, it not only suggests that he is more than ready to continue forging on, but that he is keen on addressing problems, improving his level and keep striving for more.
The passion this man has for the sport is second to none and his enthusiasm is infectious. So much so, that I am even more excited about Roger’s 16th year on tour than the previous few years. I think it will be an interesting journey for both Roger and us. Roger and his fans have all gone through this tumultuous year and we have each reassessed the situation for ourselves. We revised our expectations, recalculated our paths and for those of us who are still here at the finish line, we have reaffirmed our allegiance to our champ and continue to remain resolutely by his side. Brace yourself tennis world, Roger is getting ready to roar back, and we will roar with him in unison, ‘Allez!’
I’ll end my last post of the year by leaving you with these lyrics to close out 2013. Bring on 2014!