Roger Federer (born August 8, 1981) is a Swiss tennis player who's widely regarded as one of the greatest male tennis players of all time, if not the greatest.
Federer first caught the attention of the tennis world as a 19-year-old at the 2001 Wimbledon Championships where he upset the defending champion Pete Sampras in a fourth-round match that is now viewed as a major Passing the Torch moment. It took two years after that for him to win his first Grand Slam at 2003 Wimbledon but he then dominated the men's tennis tour for the next four years to a degree previously unseen in even Sampras's heyday, winning 11 of the next 17 Slams and holding the No. 1 ranking for a record 237 consecutive weeks. It wasn't until 2008 that he was dethroned from the No. 1 position by his friendly archrival Rafael Nadal who defeated him to win the 2008 Wimbledon title in an all-time classic final.
Despite increasingly fierce competition from his younger rival Nadal and also Novak Djokovic who emerged as another major rival to him and Nadal in 2011, Federer has repeatedly defied predictions that his Slam-winning days may be past him. He completed the Career Grand Slam at the 2009 French Open and surpassed Sampras's then-record of 14 Grand Slams in the same year at Wimbledon, reclaimed the No. 1 ranking in 2012 and surpassed Sampras's then-record of 286 total weeks at No. 1, and then went through a dry spell of no Slams won for over 4 years (but still an undisputed top 5 player for most of that time) until he won the 2017 Australian Open and surpassed Sampras's then-record of 7 Wimbledon titles (noticing a pattern here?) by winning his eighth Wimbledon that year too.
Federer further proved his incredible longevity as a top player by winning the 2018 Australian Open for his 20th Slam and becoming the oldest-ever No. 1 later that year at 36 years of age. And he's still playing to this day, having recently won his 100th singles title in Dubai to become the only male tennis player other than Jimmy Connors to win at least 100 singles titles.
Tropes associated with Roger Federer:
- The Ace: Holds many of the biggest men's tennis records, is universally loved by tennis crowds, pundits, and even his opponents, has a playing style that's so elegant that watching him play was described as a "religious experience" by David Foster Wallace... is it any wonder he still remains one of the most talked-about athletes in even his late 30s?
- Always Someone Better: Is this to Sampras, having broken virtually every record that Sampras once held. Nadal and Djokovic are this to him in turn with them both having a positive head-to-head record against him, although he still (for now) leads Djokovic and is even with Nadal in the Grand Slam tally race. Come March 8, 2021, Djoker will surpass Federer's record for most weeks at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.
- Force and Finesse: His dynamic with Rafael Nadal can be compared to this. Federer is the finesse, better known for his ability to make incredible and flashy shots with such accuracy that the opponent has no hope to defend against. Nadal, on the other hand, is the force, with his seemingly tireless game that allows him to outlast opponents by reaching balls that other players would have already given up on.
- Game-Breaking Injury: While he's stayed remarkably healthy and injury-free compared to most of his peers, he did suffer a serious knee injury in mid-2016 that caused him to miss the Rio Olympics and the rest of 2016 and fall out of the top 10 rankings for the first time since 2002. Then 2017 happened.
- Happily Married: To Mirka since 2009.
- He's Back: Most people thought he wouldn't win another Slam after 2012, especially after he had to cut his 2016 season short with an injury and his ranking dropped out of the top 10 as a result. Cue him winning two Slams in 2017 and even (briefly) getting back to No. 1 in 2018.
- Manly Tears: He famously broke down in tears after losing to Nadal in the 2009 Australian Open final.
- Omniglot: Was one of the first tennis players to really demonstrate a mastery of several languages in press conferences and interviews with his fluency in English, Swiss German, German, and French.
- The Rival: Most famously to Nadal with the "Strokes of Genius" documentary focusing entirely on their rivalry and classic 2008 Wimbledon final match, but also to Djokovic who he's actually played against more times in total than Nadal and has also had several classic matches against him such as their 2011 US Open semifinal and 2014 Wimbledon final.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: If you made a drinking game out of the number of times he's mentioned by tennis pundits and commentators during even matches and tournaments he's not playing in, you'd be dead of alcohol poisoning before the week was over.
- The Stoic: He rarely ever loses his cool on court or smashes rackets like many other players do.
- Not So Stoic: That said, there have been a few moments where he's lost his temper during tense Slam matches, such as arguing with the umpire during the 2009 US Open final and yelling at the rowdy French Open crowd to "Shut up!" during his 2012 French Open quarterfinal match against del Potro.
- Tough Act to Follow: His staggering level of dominance from 2004 to 2007, where he won 11 of 16 Grand Slams and made a record 10 consecutive Slam finals, basically ensured that any sign of him not totally dominating the ATP Tour after his prime years would be seen as a letdown. Even though he's still doing incredible things like remaining a top 5 player who's contending for major titles at an age where nearly any other player would be in terminal decline or retired, some of his fans still get disappointed that he isn't winning every tournament he enters.
- He also is this to the multiple players who have been called "Baby Fed" for modeling their gameplay after his (Richard Gasquet, Grigor Dimitrov, Stefanos Tsitsipas...). No matter how good they may turn out to be, it's a near-certainty that they'll never come close to equaling his achievements.