As Roger Federer celebrates his 300th week in tennis, we look at the top 10 other incredible records in the sport.
Chris Evert’s clay-court streak
Between August 1973 and May 1979, Chris Evert won 125 straight matches on clay (red and that horrible green stuff in the US), a run which will surely never be matched. Strangely she picked up only two French Open titles in that time – she didn’t play it in 1976, 1977 or 1978 – she was playing World Team Tennis instead – but she lost just eight sets in those 125 matches. The streak ended in Rome in 1979 when she lost to Tracy Austin, after which she put together another clay-court streak of 64 matches.
Rafael Nadal’s 81-match win streak on clay
After losing to Igor Andreev of Russia in the quarter-finals in Valencia in 2005, a then 19-year-old Nadal went on a run the like of which we may never see in the men’s game again. Nadal won 13 straight tournaments on clay over more than two years and it took an inspired Roger Federer to end it in Hamburg in 2007. The Spaniard won three French Opens in that time and has since added four more, making it seven in a row.
Roger Federer’s 23 consecutive grand slam semi-final appearances
In an era when the increasing physicality of the sport has taken its toll on many players in the form of injuries, it is incredible to think that from Wimbledon in 2004 to the French Open of 2010, Federer made it through to the last four of every single grand slam event. Considering how easy it is to suffer a cold, an illness or simply have an off-day it’s a record of consistency that threatens never to be beaten.
Novak Djokovic’s 43-match winning streak
After winning both his singles matches in the Davis Cup final of 2010, the Serb went on a tear at the start of 2011 that took in a second Australian Open title, four Masters 1000 crowns and 41 more straight victories. In an era when Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray have taken the game to another level for one man to dominate like that is a stunning feat. He beat Nadal in most of those finals and unlike the Sebastian Coe-Steve Ovett era when they ducked each other more often than not, he beat everyone in the process.
Roger Federer’s 17 grand slam titles
When Roy Emerson’s record of 12 grand slam titles was beaten by Pete Sampras and then extended to 14, everyone said it would never be beaten and then along came Roger Federer. In the first couple of years of his dominance, perhaps there was a window where he was not challenged that much but in Lleyton Hewitt, Nadal and later Djokovic and now Murray, there are plenty of world class players who wanted to stop him but couldn’t. His 17th win at Wimbledon this year extended the record further and who knows, he could even win another before he’s done.
Bjorn Borg’s five straight Wimbledons
When Nadal beat Federer in 2008, it stopped the Swiss from breaking the record he shared with Borg, who set his five straight wins between 1976 and 1980. What was more amazing about the Swede’s success was that here was a man who was the world’s best clay-court player, not just winning on grass (like Nadal has managed) but changing his game totally to serve and volley and get the job done. Supremely fit and a mental giant it took McEnroe in his pomp to end his run in four sets in 1981.
Rod Laver’s two grand slams
Don Budge proved it could be done back in 1938 but with all respect to the American, the challengers were not in the same class as Laver had to deal with in 1962 and 1969. Winning all four grand slams in the same year once was incredible, doing so for a second time, seven years later, was remarkable. It may never be done again.
Steffi Graf’s golden slam
In 1988, Fraulein forehand swept all before her by winning all four grand slams in the same year and to top it all, she added Olympic gold to her collection. After winning the Australian Open without losing a set, she took the French and then ended Martina Navratilova’s run of six straight Wimbledons before beating Gabriela Sabatini to win the US Open and repeating the feat at the Olympics.
Martina Navratilova’s nine Wimbledon wins
Serena Williams and Venus Williams have won five each, which is impressive enough, but Navratilova won an incredible nine with her brilliant left-handed serve and volley game. It is a mark of anyone’s greatness when they are said to have changed the game; Navratilova helped bring the women’s game a leap forward in terms of physical prowess and her serve and volley were simply perfect. Add to that her longevity in winning nine titles across so many years, and you get the complete player.
The longest match
OK, so this is not an individual record because it took two men to create it but it stands the test of time. In the summer of 2010, over three days and for 11 hours and five minutes, the last three hours of it pure mental torture, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut broke all records for the longest match, first at Wimbledon and then in tennis as a whole as they went to 70-68 in the final set of their first-round encounter. It led to calls for a final-set tiebreak to be adopted, for the avoidance of cruelty – that’s how tough it was.