Here pick some of the most notable events from the Swiss star’s time on tour to honour his illustrious career.
1) Mark Philippoussis in the 2003 Wimbledon championship
Federer’s first major slam victory came in the 2003 Wimbledon final, which also marked the first time he had such a large television viewership. When the score was tied at two in the first set tiebreaker, Federer showed off all of his skill in one point, including a half-volley from the baseline, wide-angled groundstrokes, and a beautiful forehand down the line.
2) Andre Agassi in the 2005 US Open final
Federer began the match by launching a stunningly strong forehand from way behind the baseline against the sentimental audience favourite Agassi, possibly for the first time in his career (around the 28 second mark in the video above). The veteran American appeared incredulous. Later, Agassi would reflect on the encounter, saying, “There was no safe place to throw a ball on the court when I faced Roger Federer in the 2005 US Open final. He may have had five things individually better than everyone else on the Tour because to Roger’s outstanding serve, return, moves, and net game.
3) Juan Martin del Potro vs. in the 2009 French Open semifinals
After experiencing a crushing loss to Rafael Nadal in the 2009 Australian Open final, Federer was eager to win the French Open in order to complete his career grand slam. When Robin Söderling upset Nadal in the fourth round, Federer realised this might be his best chance to win in Paris. But the 6’7″ Del Potro and his constant ground game presented a major obstacle for him, both figuratively and otherwise. But Federer managed to escape with a five-set victory by using a variety of strategies. Federer managed to track down a forehand in the second game of the match, curving the ball down the line to win. The Swiss master then proceeded to beat unexpected finalist Söderling in the championship match to win his lone French Open victory.
4) Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon final of 2009
Federer was back in the Wimbledon final a year after taking part in what many consider to be the best match ever played at SW19, losing to Nadal in five exhilarating sets. Roddick won the opening set and then dominated the tiebreaker with a commanding 6-2 advantage. When Roddick smacked a forehand at Federer’s feet while serving for a potentially insurmountable two-set lead, it appeared that he was in somewhat of a control of the moment. However, Federer won the tiebreak with a carefree half-volley backhand winner (at about the 4:45 point in the video above). He would triumph in an amazing fifth set 16-14.
5) Novak Djokovic vs. in the 2010 US Open semifinals
Several opportunities Roger Federer missed are included on this list because of their importance. It seemed as though it would actually happen in 2010, with New York supporters drooling at the prospect of a Federer-Nadal final (unfortunately, Gotham never got to see the two square battle). Serving with a 15-40 deficit, Djokovic flubbed two opening serves. However, Federer became tense on both occasions and allowed Djokovic to attack.
6) Semifinal of the 2011 French Open against Djokovic
Federer had lost four consecutive grand slam finals and was in the first “slump” of his career when the 2011 French Open rolled around. Nadal, who had just completed a three-grand slam season in 2010, and Djokovic, who had started the year brilliantly by winning 41 straight matches, including the Australian Open a few months earlier, were the two players everyone was talking about going into the tournament. A clearly motivated Federer defeated Djokovic in four sets, pulling off a major upset.
Around the two-minute mark in the video above, Federer manages to pull off a flipped backhand down-the-line passing shot that stuns Djokovic and helps secure the victory in the last set of his victory after both greats have traded brilliant smashes from all over the court. When the match was over, he showed everyone how much the win meant to him by waving his finger in the air. Although Nadal crushed Federer in the championship match, it didn’t diminish the significance of this victory.
7) Semifinal of the 2011 US Open against Djokovic
Surprisingly, Federer found himself up two match points in the same round in New York just a year after losing two match points to his adversary in the semi-final. It was on his serve this time. And to save the opening match point, Djokovic came up with an absurd return this time. Then, on the second match point, Federer botched a straightforward forehand into the back of the net, clearly spooked by what Djokovic had just accomplished on the first match point. In a rare display of public annoyance following the game, Federer said that Djokovic didn’t seem to “believe much longer in winning.” It’s very disappointing to lose to someone like that because you get the impression that he was already psychologically unfocused. Just makes the fortunate shot at the last end, and you’re off.
8) Nadal in the Australian Open finals of 2017
Federer entered the Australian Open with little enthusiasm because his career had already been formally declared finished after he struggled with medical problems and subpar results in the majors. The same can be said about Nadal, who had just emerged from what was perhaps his worst stretch of his career. But in Melbourne, the two put on a performance. Nadal entered the match with an undefeated record against Federer, having discovered the secret to defeating him (high balls to the backhand side).
Federer’s backhand didn’t sag on this particular day. But as demonstrated by this play in the third set, which gave Federer a break point, it was his all-powerful forehand that delivered him the victory. Federer managed to hit a half-volley down the line with terrifying power, giving him an advantage (45 second mark above). The third act of Federer’s spectacular career would begin after he recovered from a break down in the fifth set to win the title.
9) Quarterfinal of the 2017 Miami Open versus Tomas Berdych
Okay, so this wasn’t a particularly significant game or competition for Federer (although he did win it). However, it must be included because the shot—a mid-court, high-in-the-air drop shot that absolutely duped Berdych—is so exceptional.
10) The Djokovic-Wimbledon final of 2019
It may seem unfair to end on a negative one for Federer, but the defeat disguised the startling realisation that, despite being just weeks away from turning 38, an old age in tennis, Federer was still just one grand slam victory away. It must have hurt that it all happened against Djokovic. The match was once again in Federer’s hands (around the 40-second mark above), but this time, he opted for conservative serves that Djokovic managed with what appeared to be ease. Federer, who was devastated by the outcome, remarked, “I don’t know what I feel right now. I just feel like it’s such an incredible opportunity missed, I can’t believe it .”
That may be the case, but given how often Federer came so near to perfection, mistakes like this stick out in his career.
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