Commentary

Federer's numbers speak volumes

Originally Published: June 9, 2009
By Kamakshi Tandon | Special to ESPN.com

By winning the French Open, Roger Federer tied the Grand Slam record and completed the career Slam at the same time, a storybook event that made him the greatest of all time in the eyes of many, including some of the greats themselves.

What's remarkable is not just the degree and duration of his dominance, but the artistry with which it was achieved, and the grace and humanity that accompanied it.

Still, the numbers remain staggering in their own right. We run down some of the reasons why Federer is being called the greatest:

1: His ranking for 237 straight weeks

An all-time record in tennis. Federer held the top spot without interruption between February 2004 and August 2008. The next-longest streak is Steffi Graf with 186 consecutive weeks between August 1987 and March 1991.

[+] EnlargePete Sampras
Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty ImagesPete Sampras has one glaring hole in his dossier: A French Open championship.

2: Second man in history to win the career Grand Slam plus an Olympic gold medal

Federer won the doubles at the Beijing Games with Stanislas Wawrinka to add a gold medal to his various Australian, French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open crowns.

Andre Agassi was able to record a career Golden Slam by winning the singles gold at Atlanta in 1996.

3: Australian Open titles

Tied with Mats Wilander for second most in the Open era, behind Agassi's four.

4: Different Grand Slam tournaments won, a complete set

Federer's French Open victory made him just the sixth man to complete the career Grand Slam. Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Agassi are the others.

Only Federer and Agassi have done it on three different surfaces: grass, clay and hard courts. Only Federer has made at least four finals at each of the four majors.

5: Consecutive U.S. Open victories

The most in the Open era. Bill Tilden won six from 1920-25.

6: Years without losing a match on grass

Between his first-round loss at Wimbledon 2002 and his loss in the 2008 Wimbledon final, Federer won 65 matches in a row on grass.

That includes five straight Wimbledon titles (2003-07), tying Bjorn Borg's Open-era record (1976-80).

7: Seasons it took to reach 14 Grand Slams

Pete Sampras needed 12 seasons to win the same number.

8: Seasons it took to reach 15 Masters Series titles

Federer has also won the year-end Masters Cup four times, bringing his full total to 19. It took Agassi 15 seasons to win 17 Masters Series titles and one Masters Cup.

9: Titles on clay, his weakest surface

That includes one Grand Slam and five Masters Series crowns.

10: Consecutive Grand Slam finals

An all-time record. Federer reached the final Sunday of each major from Wimbledon in 2005 to the U.S. Open in 2007, and has currently reached the final in 15 of the past 16 Slams.

He has also made 20 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals, never losing before the final four since going out in the third round of the French Open in 2004.

The previous record for consecutive finals was Laver with six straight, and the previous record for consecutive semifinals was Ivan Lendl with 10 straight.

11: Seasons as a pro, a record $47 million in prize money won

Federer, who turned pro in 1998, surpassed Sampras' prize money record of $43 million at the end of last year.

12: Best-of-five matches lost since becoming No. 1

Eight of those losses (and seven of the past eight) have been to Rafael Nadal.

13: Percentage of matches lost between his first and 14th Slam victories

An 87 percent match-winning record sandwiches Federer's victories at Wimbledon in 2003 and the French Open on Sunday. His annual win-loss percentage peaked at 95 percent in 2006 (81-4), and remained above 90 percent for three seasons (2005-07).

14: Grand Slams won

Tied with Sampras for the most in men's tennis history, arguably the most prestigious record in the game.

Kamakshi Tandon is a freelance tennis writer for ESPN.com.