Is Roger Federer the greatest player of all time?
It’s a timeless tennis debate and whether you think the Swiss, who is celebrating his 36th birthday on Tuesday, is or not – the numbers certainly stack up in Federer’s favour.
In 2017, the Fed Express has belied his years by winning two Grand Slam trophies – the Australian Open and Wimbledon – taking his major haul to a record 19.
That number puts him four ahead of rival Rafa Nadal (15) and seven in front of Novak Djokovic (12).
In the video below, six-time slam winner Boris Becker and former British no1 Tim Henman pay their tributes to a man they know well, while Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou also discusses the eight-time SW19 champion.
Federer is competing in the Rogers Cup in Montreal this week.
They say nice guys finish last but not in Marin Cilic’s book.
The 2014 US Open champion is one of just three men – alongside Juan Martin del Potro and Stan Wawrinka – who have managed to break through the ‘Big Four’s’ stranglehold on titles in the last 49 Grand Slam tournaments.
Cilic, who is looking to claim a second major trophy on Sunday when he faces Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, is often told he’s too nice for the cut-throat world of professional individual sport. The soft-spoken Croatian has been working with his coach Jonas Bjorkman on being more intimidating on the court during matches.
Does the 28-year-old find himself mean enough now to overcome Federer?
“I’m still a nice guy on the court, too, I believe. You should ask players around,” said Cilic with a smile.
“For me, obviously people are asking always, Do you need to be more arrogant? Do you need to be more angry on the court, to be more selfish or stuff like that, to be able to win more constantly?
“For me, I wouldn’t agree. There is not one formula for that. I feel obviously that emotions are very important on the court, especially in my own case where I am from a quiet nature. I try to, with Jonas, with my team, lift that up, lift that spirit up. I believe that’s helping me to play a little bit freer.”
Cilic is knocking on the door of history once again, as he attempts to become just the second Croatian player – man or woman – to win a Wimbledon singles trophy. He has shown incredible mental toughness during his matches en route to the final – something he says he is most proud of this fortnight – and will be looking to claim just a second career win over Federer in eight meetings against one another.
How much would this title mean to Cilic?
“It would mean absolutely a world to me. I feel that when I won the US Open in ’14, it just opened so many possibilities in my mind for the rest of my career. To be able to do it again would definitely mean, I would say, even more because I know how much it meant for me to win that first one,” he explained.
“It would be absolutely a dream come true to win Wimbledon here.”
Novak Djokovic admits a long break is on the cards after an elbow injury forced him to retire from his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych.
Djokovic’s miserable 12 months hit a fresh low on Wednesday when a right elbow problem curtailed his bid to win Wimbledon for a fourth time.
The 30-year-old Serb was trailing 7-6 (2), 2-0 and felt he had no option but to call it quits as the pain, from an injury that has troubled him for more than a year, began to increase.
“There is a possibility that they will propose surgery, but I don’t think that is good,” Djokovic told Serbian media. “To go be cut in surgery or to poison myself with pills…. none of the solutions is good. A logical conclusion is that a kind of a rest and a longer break is a logical solution. Maybe a longer rest is necessary, not only because of the injury but for my mind as well.
“During my entire career I have followed a school schedule, I have never been reprimanded, maybe I will skip the next semester.”
Djokovic, who has also struggled with a shoulder issue, had spoken to medical experts about the elbow problem before Wimbledon and was told surgery was an option.
Asked what he would do to finally resolve the nagging injury, Djokovic had admitted he wouldn’t rule out an operation.
“The specialists that I’ve talked with, they haven’t been really too clear, mentioning also surgery, mentioning different options,” he said.
“Nobody was very clear in what needs to be done. As long as it kind of comes and goes, it’s fine. But obviously, adding up, maybe it worked for seven, eight, ten months, but now the next seven months is not working that great.
“Obviously it’s adding up more and more. The more I play, the worse it gets. Yeah, I guess the break is something that I will have to consider right now.”
With the US Open just six weeks away at the culmination of the American hard-court swing, Djokovic doesn’t have long to return to full fitness. Since winning the French Open last year to complete his career Grand Slam, Djokovic has failed to claim another major title.
He crashed out of the Australian Open in the second round and the French Open in the quarter-finals. With world No1 Andy Murray losing against Sam Querrey earlier on Wednesday, Djokovic knew he would have regained top spot in the rankings if he won Wimbledon.
That honour will have to wait for now and, with Murray hobbled by a long-term hip injury against Querrey, Djokovic conceded the two rivals could be paying the price for their gruelling battle for the top ranking last year.
“Could be. We both had a very long, very tough year, a lot of matches, a lot of emotions, a lot of things in play,” he said. “Our bodies have taken a lot physically. So, I mean, as an athlete, one way or another, at a certain stage of your career, you’re going to experience these kind of things.
“Injuries are part of this sport, unfortunately. Professional tennis is getting very physical in the last couple of years. It’s not easy to kind of play on the highest level throughout the entire season, then be able to do that over and over again every season, and then stay healthy.”
The injury was especially frustrating for the 12-time Grand Slam winner as he felt he was finally beginning to play his best tennis after a turbulent period.
“For an athlete, it’s really hard to swallow when you have to retire, especially when you’re playing well,” Djokovic said.
“I was playing really well, probably the best tennis I’ve played in the last 10 months or so. It’s just unfortunate. It takes some time to understand why this happened and to learn from it.”
* Story provided by AFP, video by wimbledon.com