By The Rex Factor
It's awfully easy for the narrative to get lost in different sports or eras when comparing athletes. Was Michael Jordan the best basketball player (or team sports player) ever, for example, is one that often emits arguments from all sides.
One that is getting tougher and tougher to debunk is that Roger Federer added to his case of being the best male tennis player of all time.
Federer beat up on a wounded Marin Cilic and cruised to a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 triumph in Sunday's title to raise his record eighth Wimbledon trophy in front of an adoring crowd at the All England Club; it was his first title on the grass there since 2012. The straight-sets win gives him 19 major victories in all, which adds on to his record number in that statistic, as well. Federer won his seven matches all in the same style and seemed as dominant as ever in winning his second major tournament of the 2017 year.
At 35 years and 11 months old, Federer becomes the second oldest winner of a major tournament. Ken Rosewall won the 1972 Australian Open at age 37 and that's one of the few records for Federer left to chase; he'll have to win at least one in 2019 to complete that notable feat. But no one can doubt that it's possible, not after what he did to the field this fortnight.
It's been a two-man show in 2017 at all of the big events. Novak Djokovic had held all four major trophies as recently as a year ago. But an injury forced him to retire during Wimbledon. Andy Murray hasn't sustained the level that he had reached in prior years when bagging three major titles and earning the world's current No. 1 ranking. To varying degrees of success, Cilic, Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro (the only major winner outside of Europe in the last 50 contested) have all broken through and tasted success in a major final. But it's been the Federer and Rafael Nadal show throughout 2017.
Federer is 31-2, with defeats coming in three sets to two players outside of the top 100 in Dubai and Stuttgart. But Federer is 25-0 this year in majors and Masters 1000 events, with wins in Melbourne, Indian Wells, Miami and now Wimbledon. He briefly ceded the mantle this spring to his younger Spanish rival, taking some time off in the clay court season to allow Nadal to dominate in winning titles at Monte Carlo, Madrid and the French Open. Nadal, like Federer in London, didn't drop a set throughout the tournament in hoisting the trophy at Roland Garros.
But on grass or hard courts, it's Federer and everyone else right now. He's now 27-0 against top-100 players this year, with 15 of those wins coming against top-20 players in the world. Federer has also won 30 straight sets. It's almost like we're back in 2006, when he won 12 singles titles and finished 92-5.
But rest assured, with this sort of streak Federer is on now, he probably wishes the U.S. Open would start next week and not in more than a month from now. Despite the decade-plus long rivalry between Nadal and Federer, they've never met in Flushing Meadow. It would only be logical for them to square off in the Big Apple with the way both men are playing in 2017.