Commentary

What a difference a year makes for Fed

Updated: July 6, 2009, 3:00 PM ET
By Ravi Ubha | Special to ESPN.com

WIMBLEDON, England -- Talk about a dramatic 13 months for Roger Federer.

He lost some monumental matches, continued to cruise in the Big Apple, suffered from a few injuries and experienced familial joy. In the end, the records kept on coming, capped by Sunday's Wimbledon win against a dogged, unfortunate Andy Roddick.

Here's a closer look at the Swiss' fluctuating fortunes.

June 2008: The nightmare

Many considered 2008 to be Federer's last real shot at glory at the French Open.

As such, his effort against Rafael Nadal in the final was shockingly tame.

Federer appeared to throw in the towel in the third set of his 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 defeat, a result so lopsided Nadal barely celebrated when it was over. Federer didn't sound overly disappointed upon being handed his worst loss in a Grand Slam.

"I tried and I hoped, and it wasn't enough," he said as the wait to complete his Grand Slam collection persisted.

July 2008: Deposed

Falling to Nadal at Roland Garros is one thing, but being toppled in your own backyard is quite another.

For all his genius, Federer comes out on the wrong end of probably the greatest match of all time, as the Spaniard prevails 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7 at Wimbledon in 4 hours, 48 minutes. Rain delays and fading light enhanced the drama as Federer failed to win a sixth straight title at the All England Club.

"Probably my hardest loss so far," Federer said.

August 2008: Era ends

By this time most everyone considered Nadal the proper No. 1, and the changing of the guard was completed at the Cincinnati Masters. Towering Croat Ivo Karlovic overcomes Federer in three sets, Nadal topples Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti, and Federer's record of 237 consecutive weeks at the top spot soon concludes.

August 2008: Golden flop

"It wasn't an Olympics or a U.S. Open, so I can live with that," Federer said after losing to Karlovic.

Well, the Olympic drought for Federer continued in Beijing.

James Blake, previously 0-8 against Federer, knocks him out 6-4, 7-6 (2) in the quarterfinals.

"This obviously is a big blow because I expected more," Federer proclaimed.

Federer gets some consolation by winning doubles gold with Stanislas Wawrinka.

September 2008: The King of Queens

Federer asks New Yorkers for support pre-U.S. Open, and boy do they oblige.

By far, he gets the biggest reception of any past winner at a parade of champions, rides the wave of support and crushes upstart Andy Murray to become the first man in 84 years to make it five straight titles at Flushing Meadows. It is Grand Slam No. 13.

"I played great," Federer said. "I felt like I was invincible for a while again."

October 2008: Back for less

After mononucleosis impaired the first half of his season, a back injury forces Federer to bail from a quarterfinal clash against Blake at the Paris Masters. It's the first time Federer pulled from an event mid-tournament.

November 2008: That man again

A resilient Murray beats Federer, ending his two-year reign at the season-ending Masters Cup. The back still bothering him, Federer exits 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5 in three hours, one of the best matches of 2008.

"Body was hurting," Federer said. "Normally best-of-three match, it's peanuts. So it was a pity I couldn't handle it today."

January 2009: Waterworks

Not averse to shedding tears in victory, an emotional Federer sobs uncontrollably after Nadal outdoes him in another classic, winning the Australian Open final 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 in a riveting 4 hours, 22 minutes.

"God, it's killing me," Federer uttered during his podium speech.

In an image that'll linger for years, Nadal consoles Federer by putting him in a mock headlock.

March 2009: A welcome addition
Amid the on-court woes, Federer announces that longtime girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec is pregnant with the couple's first child.

"This is a dream come true for us," Federer said. "We love children and we are looking forward to being parents for the first time."

The due date isn't revealed, though rumors suggest August is the month.

Much-respected Aussie Darren Cahill, formerly in Andre Agassi's corner, turns down a chance to coach Federer.

April 2009: Youth revisited

Like Bjorn Borg, Federer had a temper when he was younger, but he has matured. Yet Federer couldn't control his frustration any longer against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of Miami's Sony Ericsson Open, pummeling his racket when missing a forehand in the third set. Djokovic prevailed 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

"Didn't feel great," Federer said. "It's just a natural thing I did."

The final-set meltdowns against Nadal, Djokovic and Murray lingered on -- and on.

April 2009: Sorry ladies

The suave Federer marries Vavrinec surrounded by a small group of friends and family in his hometown of Basel.

"It was a beautiful spring day and an incredibly joyous occasion," Federer said.

April 2009: Swiss cheesed

Wanting a few matches under his belt, Federer asks for -- and yes, receives -- a wild card into the Monte Carlo Masters, the traditional clay-court opener. His stay his short.

Federer, the runner-up in 2006, 2007 and 2008, loses to Wawrinka in straight sets in the third round.

May 2009: Colossal defeat

Federer suffers more misery in the semifinals of the Rome Masters, blowing a set and break lead to lose to Djokovic again.

"I feel like this is not a match I should have given away," Federer said. "I usually don't give away opportunities like this."

Federer slips to 0-11 in his last 11 encounters against Djokovic, Murray and Nadal.

May 2009: Morale booster

The beginning of the revival.

Federer powers past a pooped Nadal 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Madrid Masters, snapping a five-match losing streak against his archrival and ending Nadal's 33-match winning streak on clay.

"I've had some bad losses this year, but everything is starting to fall into place," Federer said. "It's the right time to get a victory like this."

June 2009: The missing piece

Everything fell into place at the French Open for Federer, starting with Djokovic's third-round exit. That paled in comparison, however, to Nadal's fourth-round departure at the hands of Swede Robin Soderling.

Federer survived against Tommy Haas the next day, wore down Juan Martin del Potro in the semis, and cruised past Soderling in the final to land the elusive French Open title.

A 14th major pulled him into a tie with Pete Sampras for the all-time men's record.

July 2009: Record breaker

Federer outlasted Roddick in a second straight Wimbledon epic to earn a men's record 15 majors and reclaim his crown at the All England Club -- along with the No. 1 ranking. The fifth set ended 16-14, with Roddick wilting physically at the end.

The man whose record Federer broke, Pete Sampras, was there watching at Centre Court, joined by the likes of fellow greats Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg.

How many majors will follow?

Ravi Ubha is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.