Roger Federer’s 10 Most Memorable Matches

Lists are usually a extremely subjective enterprise, however when the topic is Roger Federer, it’s laborious to go improper. The Swiss champion’s extraordinary physique of labor extends past 1,500 matches, 103 titles and 20 main championships.

Three of those characteristic Federer’s biggest rival, Rafael Nadal, with three extra reverse Novak Djokovic. David Nalbandian, Andy Roddick, Juan Martin del Potro and Stan Wawrinka additionally make dashing appearances. 4 of those matches got here on Wimbledon’s Centre Courtroom, Federer’s favorite working house.

And memorable doesn’t imply merely victory; Federer misplaced some spectacular matches – these heartbreaking defeats had been, in some methods, as indelibly shifting as his big wins. That vulnerability is likely one of the many causes he’s been so endearing, so enduring to followers, who through the years shared these highs and lows.

Vaunted Victories

2009 Wimbledon last
Roger Federer def. Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 3-6, 16-14

Picture Credit score: Adrian Dennis/AFP by way of Getty Photos

This was the day the Open Period opened up solely. Pete Sampras’14 Grand Slam singles titles had been the usual till Federer collected his fifteenth – and set off an exhilarating three-way race with Nadal and Djokovic that also hasn’t been settled.

That this got here one 12 months after Federer left the All England Membership within the wake of a devastating loss to Nadal underlines his resilience and distinctive character. This, too, was a five-set thriller that was determined in additional time, because it had been, some 30 gut-wrenching video games. It was determined when Roddick, serving at 14-15, missed a pair of forehands. To that time, Federer had did not convert a single break level.

It was the longest males’s Grand Slam last in historical past at 77 video games and the longest fifth set, surpassing the 20 video games from Roland Garros in 1927. By the clock, it was 4 hours, 16 minutes. Whereas Roddick got here in with the fame as the larger server, it was Federer who completed with 50 aces, almost twice as many as Roddick. He additionally produced 107 winners, in opposition to solely 38 unforced errors. And so, his fifteenth main title got here on the identical courtroom as his first, six years earlier.

“I’m pleased I broke the report right here as a result of that is at all times the event that meant essentially the most to me,” Federer mentioned. “It undoubtedly looks like coming full circle, beginning it right here and ending it right here.”

2011 Roland Garros semi-final
Roger Federer def. Novak Djokovic 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5)

Federer had overwhelmed Djokovic seven months earlier on the Nitto ATP Finals in London – after which Djokovic went on a 43-match profitable streak. Three of these got here in opposition to Federer – within the Australian Open semi-finals, the Dubai last and the Indian Wells semi-finals. In reality, a lot of the pre-event anticipation surrounded a possible last matchup between Djokovic and Nadal – and the Spaniard’s 44-1 event report.

Djokovic, searching for his first title at Roland Garros, sailed by way of the primary 5 matches, together with a walkover granted by Fabio Fognini within the quarter-finals. Federer, for his half, had 5 straight-sets victories, the final two in opposition to Wawrinka and Gael Monfils. 

Dealing with a pair of set factors within the 70-minute opening body, Federer managed to power it to a tie-break, which he received. Taking 4 of the primary 5 video games, Federer received the second set and — although he didn’t realize it on the time — Djokovic was confronted by some huge odds; he would try to turn into the primary participant in 175 matches to beat Federer from a two-set deficit. 

Djokovic rallied to win the third set, however the fourth-set tie-break, punctuated by Federer’s 18th ace of the match, proved unattainable. The Swiss reacted with an emotional celebration by his requirements, notably for a semi-final victory, wagging his finger and letting out an enormous roar earlier than launching a ball into the stands.

“It nearly looks like I’ve received the event, which isn’t the case,” Federer mentioned. Certainly, it could not come to cross as Federer fell to Nadal within the last – one of the best likelihood he would have for a second French title for the remainder of his profession.


2012 London Olympics semi-final
Roger Federer def. Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17

On reflection, this most likely wasn’t a good struggle, for the London Olympics had been performed at Federer’s favourite tennis venue on the earth – the All England Membership. On Centre Courtroom, the workplace the place he did a lot enterprise through the years, Federer was normally infallible.

However when Del Potro, the genial Argentine, received the primary set, Federer was compelled to scramble. Federer frequently got here ahead and served massive when he needed to, profitable the second-set tie-break and surviving the lengthy, emotionally draining third set. Federer transformed solely his second break level within the deciding set’s the thirty fifth sport – three unforced errors damage Del Potro badly – and the Swiss served it out within the thirty sixth with a flourish.

At 4 hours, 26 minutes, it was the longest three-set males’s match of the Open period and locked down what can be his first particular person Olympic medal. 4 years earlier, Federer and countryman Wawrinka received the doubles in Beijing.

The ultimate, in opposition to Nice Britain’s Murray, was a rematch of the Wimbledon title match performed lower than one month earlier. Federer received that match in 4 units, however Murray – maybe the one participant the Wimbledon crowd embraced greater than Federer – was a straight-sets winner, leaving Federer with the silver medal.

2014 Nitto ATP Finals semi-final
Roger Federer def. Stan Wawrinka 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(6)

Federer, searching for his seventh title on the year-end occasion, appeared destined for a collision with Djokovic within the last. However an impressed effort from his fellow Swiss and a handful of heart-stopping escapes finally made their semi-final on the O2 Enviornment the principle occasion.

Quick ahead to the third set, the place Wawrinka surged to a 5-3 lead and ultimately carved out three match factors. Federer saved every one with assist from some sloppy work at internet from Wawrinka, however there was extra work to do within the tie-break. Federer received his serve at 5/6 – erasing match level No. 4 – and the ultimate two factors to shut it out.

The match ran two hours and 48 minutes, however it felt infinitely longer than that. In actual fact, Federer was compelled to withdraw from the ultimate in opposition to Djokovic the following day resulting from his exertions.

One week later, nevertheless, the brilliance of Federer and Wawrinka resurfaced within the Davis Cup last. Enjoying in Lille in opposition to hosts France, Federer and Wawrinka every received a singles match after which paired in doubles to hold off Switzerland’s first title within the 103-year historical past of the occasion.

2017 Australian Open last
Roger Federer def. Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3

Roger Federer lists the 2017 Australian Open trophy after defeating Rafael Nadal in the final.
Picture Credit score: Michael Dodge/Getty Photos

Because the years handed and the accidents mounted, it seemed like Federer’s 2012 triumph at Wimbledon can be the final nice victory of his profession. The concept that the 35-year-old might win seven straight matches in opposition to the following era of elite gamers appeared far-fetched at greatest. After which, Federer produced the Miracle of Melbourne.

After lacking six months of tennis resulting from knee surgical procedure, he started modestly sufficient, with victories over Jurgen Melzer and Noah Rubin, adopted by a straight-sets effort in opposition to No. 10-ranked Tomas Berdych. He dropped a first-set tie-break to No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori within the fourth spherical however rallied to win in 5 units, summoning some wonderful recollections of the previous. Subsequent had been Mischa Zverev and No. 4 seed Stan Wawrinka – whom he edged in one other barn-burning fifth set – resulting in one more last in opposition to his nice rival from Spain.

Like so a lot of their earlier matches, it will definitely was distilled down right into a single, conclusive set. Federer, down an early break, rallied to take it with a forehand winner that clipped the road. Nadal challenged the decision however, after an ungainly pause, it was upheld by replay.

“In opposition to Rafa it’s at all times epic,” Federer mentioned. “This one means so much to me as a result of he’s prompted me issues through the years.”

The oldest main finalist in 43 years, Federer accepted the sterling trophy from Rod Laver, the Australian champion whose identify is on the Melbourne stadium. It was Federer’s 18th main title; he would add two extra, later that 12 months at Wimbledon and on the 2018 Australian Open.

Honour In Defeat

2005 Tennis Masters Cup last
David Nalbandian def. Roger Federer 6-7(4), 6-7(11), 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(3)

One week after he thought his season was over, all packed for a Patagonia fishing trip with household and mates, David Nalbandian all of the sudden discovered himself on a aircraft to Shanghai. Ranked No. 12 amongst ATP gamers, he acquired the decision to compete within the Tennis Masters Cup when a number of qualifiers withdrew.

“I entered by way of the again door,” Nalbandian mentioned later, “a fortunate loser.” He would emerge, one week later, with one of the scintillating victories in latest reminiscence. Nalbandian, considered one of 4 Argentines within the year-end area, misplaced to Federer in three units of round-robin play, as did Ivan Ljubicic and Guillermo Coria. Gaston Gaudio did not win even a single sport within the semi-final and Federer – winner of 11 titles in 2005 and loser of solely three matches – was set to face Nalbandian, who defeated Nikolay Davydenko to succeed in the ultimate.

There was Open Period historical past on the road for Federer, who was one victory from John McEnroe’s 82-3 report, set in 1984. The Swiss champion had received 35 consecutive matches and, astonishingly, 24 straight finals. Nalbandian had misplaced his 4 earlier matches in opposition to Federer, and after dropping two tie-breaks – within the second, he did not convert three set factors and misplaced 13-11 – it appeared it could be 5 straight.

After which Nalbandian rallied to win the third and fourth units, dropping solely three video games. The fifth and supreme set, he mentioned, was a “curler coaster”.  He really led the fifth set 4-0, however Federer levelled it at 4-all and broke Nalbandian when he was serving for the match at 5-4. Within the fifth-set tie-break, Nalbandian transformed his fifth match level on a Federer miss within the internet.

“I mentioned to myself initially of the fifth-set tie-break, ‘If there’s a tie-break that I can’t lose in my profession it’s this one,’” Nalbandian mentioned.

Federer himself was questionable to compete in Shanghai in 2005, having been on crutches simply three weeks previous to the occasion with an ankle harm. However he recovered in time to provide a number of sturdy shows in Shanghai — none extra memorable than the title match.

2006 Rome last
Rafael Nadal def. Roger Federer 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5)

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer ahead of the 2006 Rome final.
Picture Credit score: Clive Brunskill/Getty Photos

Federer, the World No. 1, had already received seven majors by this time – however none of them got here on clay, a floor seemingly created for the extraordinary ability set of the muscular Spaniard. Federer had been to the Rome last earlier than, dropping to Felix Mantilla three years earlier, and was destined to fall in two others, to Nadal in 2013 and, two years later, to Djokovic.

Nonetheless solely 19, Nadal was the Internazionali BNL d’Italia defending champion and had amassed 52 consecutive victories on the clay, one behind the report set by Guillermo Vilas.

The ultimate set was a spectacular microcosm of the match that ran 5 hours and 5 minutes. Nadal trailed 1-4 and, serving at 5-6, produced a double fault – the primary of the match by both participant – that led to 2 match factors for Federer. In each instances, errant forehands allowed Nadal to flee. Main the tie-break 5/3, one other Federer failed forehand might need price him the match, which Nadal wrapped up by profitable the final 4 factors.

Federer wound up profitable extra factors (179-174), however the teenager had his fifth victory in opposition to the Swiss in six matches.

2008 Wimbledon last
Rafael Nadal def. Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7

Bjorn Borg, true tennis royalty, surveyed warm-ups for the championship match on the All England Membership from the entrance row of the Royal Field. Whatever the outcome, his tennis legacy can be in play. Federer was searching for his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title, another than the report he shared with Borg. In the meantime, Nadal was attempting to turn into the primary man to perform the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double since Borg, 28 years earlier than.

“I can’t sleep,” the silver-haired Swede had joked a number of days earlier. “No,” he mentioned softly, holding up a sublime hand. “Data are supposed to be damaged.”

Federer had overwhelmed Nadal in two earlier SW19 finals, however the Spaniard had progressively tailored to the slippery floor, shifting nearer to the baseline, punching up his serve and taking higher dangers along with his groundstrokes. He received the primary two units, however Federer got here again to take back-to-back tie-breaks and stage the match. The drama, already suffocating, was exacerbated by three rain delays, a quaint reminder that there was life earlier than the roof got here to Centre Courtroom.

Nadal broke Federer’s serve at 7-all within the fifth when a forehand sailed lengthy. Down 0/15, Nadal selected to serve and volley for the primary time within the match. Two profitable volleys and a framed Federer backhand introduced a 3rd match level, which Federer erased with a fearless backhand return. Nadal, who transformed his fourth match level when Federer’s forehand discovered the online, completed the match with tears in his eyes.

The match, which resulted in near-darkness, required 4 hours, 48 minutes — Wimbledon’s longest last on report, going again to 1877.

“I used to be simply pleased to be there, to be a part of that last,” Borg mentioned afterward. “That’s one of the best tennis match I’ve ever seen in my life.”

2011 US Open semi-final
Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at the 2011 US Open.
Picture Credit score: Al Bello/Getty Photos

Historical past, it’s mentioned, doesn’t repeat itself. However whoever mentioned it first would possibly need to rethink that premise after this one. For the second consecutive 12 months, Federer held two match factors in opposition to Djokovic within the US Open semi-finals – and wound up dropping.

This match represented a continuation of the charged-but-changing dynamic between the 2 champions. Federer had overwhelmed Djokovic within the 2007 US Open last (in straight units) and once more two years later within the semi-finals. However in 2010, they had been competing on a stage enjoying area, buying and selling blows with equal effectiveness. With Djokovic serving at 4-5 within the fifth set, Federer scored these two break factors, doubling as match factors, however they had been erased with a pair of cool forehand winners. Djokovic broke Federer’s serve and served it out to advance to the ultimate, the place he misplaced to Nadal.

Their 2011 semi-final noticed Federer win the primary two, tight units earlier than Djokovic got here again to power a deciding last body. Federer raced out to a 5-3 lead and instantly pinned Djokovic down with two match factors at 40/15. The Serbian’s response? One of many boldest forehand winners in Grand Slam historical past. Djokovic received the final 4 video games and this time defeated Nadal within the last for his third main title of the season.

“How are you going to play a shot like that on match level?” Federer requested later, referring to that fabulous forehand. “Possibly he’s been doing it for 20 years, so for him it was very regular. You’ve acquired to ask him.”

Djokovic’s reply: “Yeah, I have a tendency to try this on match factors. It type of works.”

2019 Wimbledon last
Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3)

Right here was one final, terrific alternative to grab a twenty first Grand Slam singles title and prolong his all-time report. The truth that Federer was one month shy of his thirty eighth birthday, that he was making an attempt to turn into the oldest man to win a significant within the skilled period, was nearly irrelevant.

The possibility got here within the fifth set on Centre Courtroom, serving at 8-7, up 40-15 on Djokovic. The primary match level handed rapidly when Federer’s forehand was huge. The second was actually a passing shot, crosscourt, from Djokovic. And so, Djokovic re-established the equilibrium and, at 12-all, went on to win Wimbledon’s first-ever championship final-set tie-breaker.

“I don’t know what I really feel proper now,” Federer mentioned afterward. “I simply really feel prefer it’s such an unimaginable alternative missed, I can’t consider it.”

In the end, Federer received extra factors (218-204) and hit vastly extra winners (94-54), however couldn’t shut the deal in opposition to his youthful rival. It was the fifth Wimbledon title for Djokovic and would arrange an exhilarating race with Nadal for essentially the most males’s Grand Slam singles titles.


Author: Gregory Adams