I think there's something quite powerful about Federer being one week short of Sampras in the total weeks at #1. If only he had converted from any of the following scenarios: being 2 points away from beating Del Potro at the USO, 2 points away beating Davydenko at the WTF, 1 point away beating Baghdatis and Berdych at Indian Wells and Miami, not having to withdraw from Dubai due to a lung infection, not deciding to play Monte Carlo...then the situation could have been so different.
Just goes to show that the margins in tennis can be very thin at times.
The thing about records is there are often elements of good fortune/bad fortune that come into play to twist the numbers. Sometimes they twist your way, sometimes not.
Take Sampras, for example. Were there weeks during his career that he might have lost the number 1 ranking, but maybe got a little lucky? Sure, but there were also times where he wasn't so lucky, and it cost him weeks at the top.
I thought Sampras was playing some of the best tennis of his career during the pre USO swing in 1999, but a back issue forced him to withdraw from the USO. My opinion is that without that back problem, Sampras would have won the USO that year, and finished the year number 1 for a seventh consecutive year.
However, that's not what happened, and I don't grant Sampras an exception for being hurt when I look at various records. It's just the way it is. One player doesn't always get the benefit of everything going their way. There were times that Sampras was lucky. There were times when Sampras was unlucky. That's life. More power to anyone that can always manage to be on the lucky side in life!
It's a great thing to be lucky, IMO. Is there anyone here who is thinking to themselves that they wished they weren't so lucky in life? I kinda doubt it. And yet, some folks will really protest if you ever try to suggest that a certain player was ever lucky during their career.
I believe that at various times, players like Fed, Sampras, and Nadal each got lucky. And at times, each were unlucky. That is what I wouild expect from life...