Federer's triumph enabled him to equal two modern era records held by Pete Sampras: most Wimbledon singles titles and most weeks as the number one ranked player (286). Federer ended his two year drought without a Grand Slam title, winning his first major since the 2010 Australian Open; prior to this year's Wimbledon, Federer had made it to just one final in his previous nine Grand Slam appearances after advancing to the previous eight finals and winning four of those. During Federer's struggles--by his high standards--it seemed reasonable to wonder if he would ever win another Grand Slam title, just as now it seems reasonable to wonder how many more Grand Slam titles Federer might be able to win despite his relatively advanced age (he turns 31 next month). Sampras had eight winless Grand Slam appearances after winning his 13th Grand Slam title--tying the longest such drought of his career--and he retired at 31 after winning the U.S. Open to claim his 14th major title but Federer believes that he can keep playing at a high level for the foreseeable future. It is too soon to say if this was the last great singular moment of Federer's career or the beginning of some kind of revival.
For several years, it has been popular to acclaim Federer as the greatest tennis player of all-time or at least the greatest tennis player of the Open Era; the first claim is virtually impossible to logically prove considering the vast differences (equipment, rules, surfaces, etc.) between the various tennis eras, while the second claim is at the least very debatable considering the simultaneous Wimbledon/French Open dominance achieved by Bjorn Borg, not to mention Rafael Nadal's head to head mastery of Federer and the fact that Nadal won more Grand Slams by age 25 than anyone in tennis history other than Borg.
While the greatest of all-time/greatest of the Open Era questions are more complex than most people seem to be willing to acknowledge, on the occasion of Federer's most recent Wimbledon triumph it makes sense to compare Federer's stellar career at tennis' most prestigious Grand Slam with the numbers posted by Borg and Sampras, the two other most distinguished Wimbledon champions of the Open Era:
Federer has played at Wimbledon 14 times, amassing seven titles plus one other finals appearance. He has lost in the first round three times and has a 66-7 match record (.904).
Sampras also played at Wimbledon 14 times, winning seven titles in seven finals appearances. He lost in the first round twice and he posted a 63-7 match record (.900).
Borg played at Wimbledon nine times, winning five titles in six finals appearances. He never lost earlier than the third round and he posted a 51-4 match record (.927).
Federer and Sampras share the modern era record for most Wimbledon titles but Borg still holds (or, in one instance, shares) several other Wimbledon records:
- Career match winning percentage (.927)
- 41 consecutive match wins (1976-81)
- Only player to win Wimbledon without losing a set (1976)
- 24 consecutive sets won (1976-77)
- Five consecutive championships won (1976-80; Borg shares this record with Federer, who won five in a row from 2003-07)
Federer's mastery is deservedly lauded but the fact that even a player as gifted, durable and motivated as he is cannot match the multi-surface dominance that Borg accomplished indicates just how much respect and praise that Borg deserves as well.