French Open 2009: Roger Federer deserves to make history, says Tim Henman
Tim Henman doesn't really 'do' angry, but ask him if Roger Federer, the French Open favourite, is on the slide and he positively bristles.
Federer, who faces Juan Martin Del Potro in the semi-finals at Roland Garros, is two wins away from tennis history. A 14th grand slam title would equal Pete Sampras' record and give Federer a prestigious clean sweep of all four majors.
It would also make predictions about Federer's demise seem significantly premature.
"People don't appreciate how good Federer is," Henman told Telegraph Sport. "They say 'oh, that was a good shot', and you think no, hang on, that was an unbelievable shot. He just made it look easy.
"Federer won three majors in a year three times. No one has ever done that. There's two ways to go from there. You either win the grand slam or you come down a bit, and realistically you can only drop from that level.
"But the guy is 27. He's hardly over the hill. He's made 19 consecutive grand slam semis. I think the best before that was nine or something. It's a joke how good he's been. He's the best player I've ever seen, or played against. I'm not a massive fan of comparisons through the generations, but if you asked me to pick one I'd say he's the best player ever."
Many pundits cited this year's defeat against Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final - which left Federer in floods of tears - as the moment power shifted in men's tennis. But Henman reads nothing into such a raw display of emotion.
"Roger's a really good friend of mine, and he's so laid back and down to earth," said Henman.
"I beat Federer in the final at Basle [Federer's home town] three or four years ago and he was crying his eyes out. When he won Wimbledon in 2003 he was bawling his eyes out. He's just a really emotional guy. He's honest enough to say 'this is who I am'."