Below you can read article written by Andre Jones, please let me know what you think about this art, thank you in advence!
“His greatest opponent will be the record books” was how the retired Pete Sampras, winner of 14 Grand Slam titles once diplomatically dealt with the whole question of Roger Federer’s place amongst the all-time greats. Of course, Sampras knows that with his outstanding Grand Slam record many consider him to be the greatest player of all time, but he’s no Mohammed Ali. He’d never shout egotistically “I am the greatest!” He prefers to leave that to others.
Others such as friend and long-term rival Andre Agassi who when asked back in 1998 who he considered to be the five best players of all time, retorted unequivocally; “Sampras, Sampras, Sampras, Sampras, Sampras.” The veteran American’s opinions have shifted a little since then. After suffering an eighth consecutive defeat at the hands of Federer in the US Open final this year, he elevated the Swiss maestro to position of “best ever” with gushing statements like; “He plays the game in a special way. I haven’t seen it before”; “Pete was great, no question. But there was a place to get to with Pete. You knew what you had to do. If you do it, it could be on your terms. There’s no place like that with Roger. He’s the best I’ve played against.” Having faced-off against Sampras and Federer in their prime, Agassi should know what he’s talking about. But so does Sampras when he talks about the record books. Agassi concurs when he considered Federer’s task of catching Sampras’ Grand Slam record; “I think the accomplishment of winning that many Slams requires a number of things, including a little bit of luck to make sure you are healthy, and that nothing goes wrong.” Assuming that injury does not blight his career however, there is no doubt in most people’s minds that the young Swiss is equal to the task. He’s already won three consecutive Wimbledon’s, two consecutive US Open’s and an Australian Open title. He’s on a roll. If the next two years are anything like the last two, he will be well on the way to the Grand Slam record. There has not been a more dominant world number one since John McEnroe in 1984, when the tempestuous American recorded an 82-3 win-loss record. Federer had to settle for an 81-4 record this year when he fell at the final hurdle to an inspired and fully fit David Nalbandian in the final of the Masters Cup in Shanghai. Ironically, it is Mcenroe’s career which spells a clear warning to anyone who assumes that Federer’s record will continue unabated. If someone had approached McEnroe after he had taken the US Open title in 1984 and said “that’s your lot” no doubt he would have replied with a few expletives thrown in “You cannot be serious!” At the time many distinguished commentators were describing him as “the best they had ever seen”, “the greatest of all time” etc. Yet his Grand Slam total stalled at 7. Four short of his arch rival Bjorn Borg and Australian legend Rod Laver. Most of those same commentators would not now rate him above those superior Grand Slam winners even if they still think he was a better player simply because his record does not support his claim to “best ever”. McEnroe’s underachievement at Grand Slam level must be one of his greatest disappointments. But it was not entirely his fault. The early retirement of his friend and arch rival Borg after 1981 had a profound detrimental effect on his career. He lost focus and motivation in the months following the Swede’s disappearance and did not win a Slam thereafter until Wimbledon 1983. He did not have the same appetite for the game playing Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, neither of whom he liked or respected as he did Borg, and duly relinquished his authority at the top of the game until he recaptured the “magic” in 1984.
There is no sign that Federer could succumb to a similar fate. Whether his main rivals are injured, retired or even playing, his appetite for titles, especially the majors will remain undiminished. Going into 2006, he will be the clear favourite for virtually every tournament he enters. The French Open remains the jewel missing in his crown. He said before 2005 started that he was not making it a priority, but I get the feeling it will be in 2006.
All being said, there is no doubt that Federer possesses probably the most complete game the tennis world has ever seen. Like all the other all-time greats his mind sets him apart at the highest level. He has that all important “X” factor, an intangible prerequisite of a champion. When he is fully fit, there are very few that can live with him on a tennis court. Pete Sampras must be quite concerned about the security of his 14 Grand Slam record, and so he should be. Federer is catching up on it fast. Unlike the American, the young Swiss is a threat at all the majors. He is intent on sweeping all before him, including his ultimate foe – the record books.