Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Federer's Incredible Streak Over

For the first time in his last 24 Grand Slam appearances, Roger Federer failed to reach the semifinals.

Robin Soderling defeated the world's top player in the quarterfinals at the French Open, snapping one of the most impressive and overlooked streaks in all of sports.

It was just one year ago at Roland Garros that Federer edged Andy Roddick for his record-breaking 15th Grand Slam title. This year, he is forced to watch the rest of the tournament as a spectator.

But that doesn't do anything to tarnish the career of the 28-year-old Swiss tennis legend. He's still the best player to ever play.

Federer made 23 straight semifinals in major tournaments for several reasons, the most astonishing being durability. Former top-ranked and current No. 2 Rafael Nadal may be a stronger player at this point in their careers, but he does not possess the same qualities as Federer. He is brilliant when on the court. But Federer has managed to stay healthy for such a long period of time. The way he has reigned over the rest in this sport without his body breaking down is one of the most underrated aspects of his game.

The other major factor in this unbelievable run is his versatility as a player. The way he consistently makes it deep in majors even with the different playing surfaces is phenomenal. Nadal finally captured a hard court championship at the Australian Open last year but that aspect of his game is still somewhat questionable. Federer's worst surface is clay. However, had the best clay-court player the tennis world has ever seen (Nadal) not burst onto the scene, he may have won the past five French Opens.

Tuesday's early exit isn't that shocking. The level of competition has increased significantly in the past few years.

I don't think anyone will accomplish this type of streak in tennis again.

And it definitely belongs near the top of the list with great records of the other major sports.

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