He currently holds the record for most career Grand Slam singles titles, with 17. He’s reached at least the quarterfinals of every major in 36 consecutive tournaments. That’s nine years. He spent 302 successive weeks atop the ATP Rankings from 2004 to 2012. He is undeniably the best overall tennis player in history, but after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated him in the fourth round of the French Open 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 on Monday, many are left wondering if he’ll ever win another major. The question has to be asked: have we seen the last of Roger Federer?
Turning 32 later this summer, Roger is hardly the spry youngblood that burst onto the scene in the early 2000s. He’s still one of the best players on tour, and I doubt any player looks forward to having to face him. But over the last few years, the competition has caught up to him.
Since the 2008 Wimbledon final, in which Rafael Nadal dethroned Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7 in a grueling five hour match, Roger hasn’t enjoyed the same uncontested dominance that he did before Nadal asserted himself. Over the last five years, both Rafa and Novak Djokovic have taken over that role.
Federer’s titles have become far scarcer in recent years. From 2003 to 2007 he won five consecutive Wimbledon titles. Since then, he’s been victorious in just two. In the other three, he lost in the finals and reached just the quarterfinals twice. He also won five straight U.S. Open titles from 2004 to 2008, but has yet to take home another title from Queens since.
At the Australian Open, he hasn’t made an appearance in the finals since 2010 when he defeated Andy Murray for the title. Since then, Djokovic has made that his turf, winning the last three tournaments in Melbourne. I wouldn’t expect another French Open title anytime soon either, as he’ll never be able to defeat Rafa Nadal on clay. Federer has played in the finals at Roland Garros six times. Five of those matches were against Rafa, and Federer lost all five, winning only three sets total in all five meetings. The only French Open title Federer won was in 2009 when, due to Robin Soderling’s freak upset victory over Rafa in the fourth round, Federer didn’t have to face the King of Clay.
So what’s to come for Roger Federer? Will the man who has baffled tennis fans for a decade ever hoist a championship trophy or plate ever again? I think he will. He’s too competitive, determined, and skilled not to. He’ll never dominate the game like he did just a few years ago, but I think he will win at either Wimbledon or the U.S. Open at least one more time before he calls it quits. As an avid fan of the sport, I certainly hope we haven’t seen the last of the man from Switzerland.