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What Records are Roger Federer Playing For?

Roger Federer would tell you he continues the exhausting exercise of playing tennis at age 38 because he still loves tennis. Fair enough. But as the current GOAT sits out a few months to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery, the Tennis Twitteratti is obsessing over legacy.

Here’s a look at the records Federer holds by the throat, those in danger of slipping away, and a few he’ll need the mother of all net cords to go his way.

Roger Federer career records

Most Slams

The granddaddy of ‘em all. Ask anyone from the casual fan to the hardcore tennis freak, they will tell you the Rolex of Records is “Most Grand Slams Won.” Furthermore, tennis fans generally equate this simple record with GOAT status. Right now, Federer protectively cradles the number 20. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic–younger men–look to pounce with 19 and 17 respectively.

Tennis conventional wisdom says Djokovic will ultimately capture this record. With the Serbian’s tenacity, it appears likely. But sports have a funny way of not following script. Ask Tiger Woods, whose life mission was to overtake Jack Nicklaus in number of Majors won. That train derailed. Serena Williams also toils toward a coronation as she pursues Margaret Court’s mark. 

With not one but two all-time greats in such close reach of this mark, Roger would feel a lot better if he could win just. One. More. Grand Slam. At least!

Fed Record Outlook: ⚠️ Danger, Fed Robinson.

Most Titles

Think of a legend hoisting a tennis trophy, and you might conjure up an image of tennis revolutionist Jimmy Connors, who played until age 41. Connors holds the record for most career titles on the ATP Tour at 109. Federer is six away from that mark at 103, his latest coming in 2019 at Basel. As James Blake has pointed out, winning a full tournament is a big ask at Roger’s age, especially when he’s cut back his schedule so much. It’s not out of the question if Federer continues to play a few more years. But it’s a long shot.

Fed Record Outlook: ? Unicorn

Most Matches Won

Just under most career titles sits most matches won. Think of the workhorses. The grinders. Think of Andre Agassi, David Ferrer and Lleyton Hewitt. True- those guys are in the Top 25 in this category. But it’s long-playing Connors also holds this record with 1,274. Federer is in second place, within striking distance, at 1,242, a mere 32 match wins away.

Point of Analysis: Losing in the the semifinals of a Slam, as Fed did at this year’s Australian Open, is good for five wins. Doing well in smaller tournaments can yield 4-5 wins per. We’re only talking about Roger doing well in about eight more tournaments here. He can do this. 

Who’s behind him? Nadal is in 4th (behind Ivan Lendl) at 985, 257 match wins behind Federer. Last year Nadal won 58 matches. Roughly playing this out, the Spaniard would need to play–and play well–for about 5-6 more years to catch Federer. Seems unlikely, considering his bruising style.

And Djokovic? Djokovic is 6th on this list with 906 career match wins, currently 336 from Federer. In a torrid 2019, Novak won 57 matches. Playing a limited schedule as the GOATs do, Djokovic might have to play solidly and injury-free for a minimum of six more years to get within a sniff of Federer and Connors. We all hope he does… but it’s tough to see Djokovic maintaining this level into his late 30s.

Fed Record Outlook: Near Lock ?

Winning Percentage

This the Ted Williams of records, named after the baseball Hall of Famer whose career .344 batting average stands alone. It’s a tricky record to hold, because the more you play, the more you might be hurting yourself. Maybe. Williams didn’t buy into that philosophy–he went hard at it. As of the writing of this article, here are the razor thin percentages:

Rafael Nadal 83.1%

Novak Djokovic 82.9%

Bjorn Borg 82.7%

Roger Federer 82.1%

Jimmy Connors 81.8%

As you can see, Federer is right there. He could easily pad up his stats by playing a few more 250 level tournaments. But that’s not Federer’s style. And with two active GOATS in front of him, his chances of ultimately owning this record are dicey at best.

Fed Record Outlook: ⚠️

Federer will unquestionably go down as one of the greatest human beings to touch a tennis racquet. But the reality is, he’s got some work to do when he comes back from knee surgery if he wants to chisel his name in multiple statistical categories.

Main Photo from Getty.


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