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The Amazing Race toward GOAT status: Roger Federer's résumé

The Amazing Race toward GOAT status: Roger Federer's résumé

The 38-year-old leads Nadal and Djokovic with major titles and weeks at No. 1, but has losing records in both head-to-head series.

As Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic approach the first major of 2020s, their three-way race to be crowned the Greatest of All Time has never been closer. Below, we review Federer's résumé. Check out Nadal's and Djokovic's to see how the trio stacks up against each other.

Quick hits (as of January 13, 2020)

Age / 38 (will turn 39 on August 8)

Years on tour / 22

Grand Slam titles / 20

ATP Finals titles / 6

ATP Masters 1000 titles / 28

ATP tournament titles / 103

Weeks at No. 1 / 310

Year-end No. 1 rankings / 5

Career record / 1237–270 (82.1%)

Outlook / "I’m just trying to keep winning, and playing for Grand Slam wins. We’ll see how the race will go at the end."

Résumé strengths

> Federer is the men’s leader in Grand Slam titles and weeks at No. 1. 

> From 2004 to 2007, when he won 11 of 16 Slams and went 315–24, he set a new standard for ATP dominance.

> In 2018, Federer set a new standard for longevity when, at 36, he became the oldest male player to hold the world No. 1 ranking.

> He will likely pass Jimmy Connors for most match wins (Connors has 1274 to Federer’s 1237), and may also catch him for most tournament titles (Connors has 109 to Federer’s 103).

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Résumé weaknesses

> His head-to-head records against Nadal (16–24) and Djokovic (23–26). This is partly due to Nadal’s dominance on clay (Federer is 2–14 against Rafa on the surface), and the fact that Federer has played into his late-30s against these two younger opponents. Still, the fact remains that he will likely finish on the short end of both of his biggest rivalries.

What advantages or disadvantages does Federer have in the race?

> Unfortunately for Federer, he could be a victim of his own longevity. Because of the example he’s set, Nadal and Djokovic must feel that they can stay at the top of the sport for years to come. Federer’s advantage is that he is in the lead and has set the bar high—in major titles, weeks at No. 1, matches and tournaments won. Yet while he shows few signs of slowing down, Djokovic and Nadal are catching
up anyway.

2020 Preview

> We’ve been getting reports of Federer’s decline for a decade now, and they’ve always turned out to be greatly exaggerated. Yes, he failed to a win a major in 2019, but he was one point from Wimbledon, he won a Masters title in Miami, and he closed the year with a convincing win over Djokovic in London. His No. 3 ranking shows that, so far, no one other than Nadal and Djokovic has caught up to him.

What does this mean for the soon-to-be 39-year-old? He’s confident enough in his fitness that he’s planning to play a full schedule, including the Olympic Games and Roland Garros, where he reached the semifinals in 2019 after four years away.

“With a good draw, I think Federer is still right there,” Knowles says.

2020 Prediction

> Federer wins his 21st major at Wimbledon, and announces he’ll play into his 40s.