Roger Federer’s Grand Slam Finals History
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Roger Federer will turn 39 in August. His career has spanned 4 decades and he has featured in thousands of professional matches. He currently holds the men’s record for the most grand slam titles at 20 but is closely pursued by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Although he holds 20 titles there are many others that got away as we are about to discover. Lets take a look at Roger’s career Grand Slam final record.
2001 big break– Early Federer
Roger first caught the eye in 2001 in defeating Pete Sampras at Wimbledon, sadly he didn’t go onto win the title but he certainly created a buzz. Federer’s first slam final was the 2003 Wimbledon Final. He faced big serving Australian Mark Phillippoussis ( or Scud as he was nick named). A long haired Roger fell to his knees in tears on winning match point. The 2004 season began in Australia and Roger made the final in Melbourne. Federer defeated Safin in 3 straight to lift grand slam title number 2. Later on that year Andy Roddick was up in the Wimbledon final and despite being a whisker away from a two sets to love lead he succumbed to Federer in 4. Finally in the City that never sleeps Roger demolished 2 time slam champion Lleyton Hewitt to finish 2004 with 3 grand slam titles and 4 overall.
2005 – Aus Open 2006
Federer picked up another two slams in 2005. Once again he faced world number 2 Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon final and this time he didn’t drop a set. In a glittering final in New York City, he played Andre Agassi in his swansong. Absolutely no time for sentiment here Andre. Federer won in 4 sets, his 6th slam in total. 2006 continued in Federer fashion as Marcos Baghdatis was the next challenger in Australia. Sadly the Cypriot was no match for the great Swiss. Federer steamrollered the final sets with the loss of just two games.
Meeting Rafa in a slam final. French Open 2006.
Every good guy has a kryptonite. Batman had the Joker, Spiderman had Harvey Dent and ofcourse Roger has Rafa. They met for the very first time in a grand slam final in the 2006 edition of the French Open. The Spanish teenager who was at home on the clay of Paris and Roger slipped to his first slam final defeat. It was the first of many grand slam matches between Fedal ( Federer and Nadal) and a rivalry that continues to this day. Roger didn’t have to wait too long to get one over his friend as he defeated him in the 2006 final of Wimbledon. Federer would notch his third slam in the calendar year as he defeated American Roddick in Flushing Meadows. 8 slams and counting.
2006 was one of the record years on the ATP tour. Federer amassed an 81-3 record over the course of the season. Needless to say 2007 would be really tough to match. Roger started positively in Melbourne beating the big forehand Fernando Gonzalez in the final. He matched his performance on the clay the year previous with a 4 set loss to Rafa. He went on and to defeat Rafa once again at Wimbledon. The Rafa and Roger show seemed to be gaining huge following throughout the world and tennis certainly enjoyed the ride. However enter Novak Djokovic, a year younger than Rafa making his slam final debut in New York at the US Open. Federer would have too much for the Serb but he was one certainly to watch for the future!
2008 will not go down as a vintage year for Roger Federer especially given that he had won 3 grand slams in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Roger started the year poorly and once again lost to Rafael Nadal in Roland Garros this time in the final and also in the epic Wimbledon final. Some call this match the greatest match of all time. With darkness falling rapidly around Wimbledon and the players barely able to see the ball Nadal won an epic rain delayed encounter. People already talk about where were you when Nadal beat Federer at Wimbledon? It was a great match between the top two players in the world. A wounded Federer against a resurgent Nadal eager to finally win on the grass. Federer went into the last major of the year down but not out. Enter the 2005 US Open Junior Champion Andy Murray. Roger regained some level of normal service as he won in three straight sets.
2009 Career Slam Complete
Rafa continued his hold over Roger in the 2009 Australian Open Final. Who can forget a teary Roger in the post match on court press conference letting it all out. The tide had turned, Roger Federer the once dominant force in tennis has been usurped as the best player in the world, even if the rankings didn’t say it. It was a damp Sunday in Paris and an unlikely guy called Robin Soderling who helped Federer achieve his dream. Soderling the big hitting Swede beat the King of Clay on his court despite having been destroyed in the Rome Masters just a few weeks previous! It was a huge upset and one no one saw coming. Federer and Soderling both made it to the final and Roger wasn’t gonna give up this opportunity to win a French Open with Rafa out of the way. He won in three straight sets to seal the only grand slam that eluded him; The French Open.
Roger rolled into Wimbledon on a high, he had surpassed Pete Sampras having won in Roland Garros. Wimbledon 2009 was coming at the right time. Buoyed by the victory in Paris and now on his favourite surface the grass. Once again Roger went through to the finals and faced a familiar foe, not Nadal but Andy Roddick making his third finals appearance. It was an epic see saw encounter in which both men played some epic tennis. In the 5th set, 2 sets all both men served for their lives. Service hold after service hold, game after game. Roger eventually won a tense battle 16-14. Poor Roddick was disconsolate. 3 Wimbledon finals and this was as close as he would get. Gutting.
Dumped by Delpo.
The French Open bounce continued to Flushing in September. Roger made a run to the final of the US Open and seemed to be cruising against Juan Martin Del Potro. A first time slam finalist and a guy he had demolished at the Australian Open only a few months previous. 2 sets up in a slam he has owned for years surely this would be grand slam number 3 of 2009. What we witnessed on the Arthur Ashe arena was an incredible sporting comeback something that we only ever see in the movies. Del Po outworked and out hit Federer and Federer simply imploded. He got mad hat himself and his inability to wrestle control from Delpo. Federer was angry he had lost this opportunity. This was perhaps one of the first times we saw the lapses in concentration by Fed on the big stage and boy did it cost him dearly. 15 slams and counting as we enter a new decade.
The noughties were very much Federer’s decade. 15 slams say a huge amount about Roger’s achievements. Many predicted that Nadal would be the man to stop Federer from winning the majors in the 2010s and they were right. Novak Djokovic and to an extent Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka also proved to be foils to Federer’s ambitions. 2010 started very much as they had finished. Federer won in Melbourne, his 16th slam but it would be a further 17 months before Roger would feature in another slam again. Surprising losses, perhaps lack of focus and desire. Who knows. For a regular tour player Roger was doing over and above what was required. For Roger Federer with God like status and having achieved so much he was under performing. The 2011 French Open final was the next stop against none other than Rafael Nadal. Any change this time? Sadly not, as Roger lost in 4. Familiar rally patterns and plays. Nadal doing what he does to beat Federer.
Grass court specialist
Federer’s next three slam finals were all at Wimbledon over the years of 2012, 2014 and 2015. No one could deny that Roger was and is really comfortable on the grass and his finals record is one of those records that is unlikely to be beaten. 2012 was a momentous occasion as Federer took on home hero Andy Murray. He won much to the disappointment of the Great British public. Like Federer in 2009 we saw just how much the game means to these players as Murray broke down in the post match on court interviews. It was a tough watch but Murray would achieve revenge only a few weeks later when he defeated Roger in the Olympic Games final also at Wimbledon.
The top player of this time was Novak Djokovic. Irresistible from the back of the court and rarely making unforced errors. Federer faced him in both the 2014 and 2015 Wimbledon showpiece. As a Federer fan if there was one venue which Roger perhaps could have got one over Djokovic it was Wimbledon. The lower slidey bounce, the grass court knowledge and the experience of having won there before surely would count from something. In the end both were close games but Djokovic did enough to win. A disappointed Federer and his legions of fans still hoped for one more. Hope rather than expectation? Blind to the truth of the current best player in world? Who knows.
The top two in the world faced each other again at Flushing Meadows in 2015. A familiar matchup over the years and one certainly befitting a showpiece final. Once again Novak started strongly and nicked a tight first set before Roger roared back in the second. The third and fourth were cagey affairs but Djokovic as world number ones and form players often do, found a way to win. 17 grand slams
2016 Cruising to retirement?
In 2016 Federer suffered a knee injury with his kids in the bath that necessitated he cut short his 2016 season and rehabilitate. At that stage few would have predicted that 34 year old Federer would be able to come back let alone compete at the top level again. The tour was Federerless for 6 months and when Roger came back in January there were few expectations of the great man adding to his tally of Grand slam finals. 17 slams from 27 finals isn’t a bad stat at all.
Under the Radar in 2017
Federer didn’t even play a tournament before the Australian Open instead opting for the Hopman Cup exhibition event in Perth. He was ranked 17 in the world and considered an outsider for the event in Melbourne. At all grand slams only the top 8 players are required to do pre tournament press conferences. Federer given his stature was also asked to do a presser. In it he said he was delighted to be fit and healthy and liked the new status of an underdog. Surely 2017 would be Federer’s swansong. That wasn’t the script at all. Federer after a few dodgy earlier rounds came alive in the third round and demolished Berdych. This kickstarted Federer’s charge as he made it through to the final with a new brand of attacking tennis which literally put him on the front foot whenever he wanted.
The final was against his arch nemesis Rafael Nadal. The guy who knows how to beat Roger, his style, his leftiness, everything about Rafa puts Roger in an awkward position on the tennis court. After an entertaining 4 sets split 2 sets all, Nadal goes up a break in the final set. Time to switch off the television we have seen this story before. Somehow from Somewhere Roger found it within himself to back himself and continue to go for his shots. Amazingly he snatched the Australian Open title from Rafael Nadal to cap an amazing fairytale comeback to the tour. His 18th Grand Slam title.
5 whole years since his last triumph Roger went into Wimbledon 2017 with reasons for optimism. No Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray ailing; he was a big favourite. Backed up by a ferocious crowd Roger beat Marin Cilic for his 19th slam title in straight sets. What a year 2017 was turning out to be. The retirement plans could be put on ice. Vintage Federer was good enough to beat the current crop of talent. 2 slams in one year. Back as the main man once again.
2018 continued were 2017 left off. A twentieth grand slam title in Melbourne against Marin Cilic. It felt like a very important moment, 20 slams, what a number. There is a certain amount of symmetry to 20 slams that 19 doesn’t quite have. Federer continued to play well in 2018 without ever making it to another slam final. Wimbledon 2019 has been his last final appearance in a grand slam to date when he took on Novak Djokovic. Federer actually had two match points against Djokovic on his serve but could hold on. As devastating as it must have been Federer did not show it on court.
To date Roger has contested 31 grand slam finals winning 20 of them. He has already announced that he is taking 2020 off to recuperate following a third procedure on his knee. He hopes to be back in 2021. Who knows at the age of 39 will he competitive? You wouldn’t bet against him. Many thanks once again to Rafiki tennis journals for their infographic.