Federer’s 2017 Proves He’s the Best
Who could have predicted that, barely four months into 2017, Roger Federer would have a Grand Slam and two Masters titles to his name. But that he has. His straight sets victory over Rafael Nadal in Miami is not just impressive, in my opinion, it settles a debate that has been ever-present in during this generation.
Who is the best.
Sure, when it comes to which Big Four player is the best, most people would have picked Federer anyway… but not always. For those people who would still pick Nadal or Djokovic, I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just making my case for why Federer’s 2017 achievements prove he is the best of this breed… maybe even ever.
Timing is Everything
Now you may notice that, despite mentioning the Big Four, and despite being a huge Andy Murray fanboi, I left Murray out of the above paragraph. I personally have no doubt that Murray is the best player of his time who is not called Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic. But I doubt anyone would pick him for top honours. And yet, it is my arguments in defence of Murray that settle the score for Federer.
You see, many people dismiss Murray’s 2016 dominance, saying that he only got his time in the Sun due to the other big guns falling off. Federer and Nadal were injured, Djokovic suffering some internal crisis of motivation. I’ve even seen the same said of Djokovic. Yes, people have argued that Djokovic only had his unbelievable dominance because Federer was too old and Nadal too tired.
In my opinion, this argument would be fine if the other players had retired. But they haven’t.
Now we’re going to leave Federer out for a moment and focus on Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray. These player’s are more or less the same age. They are all playing during the same era. They are all still active. If Murray gets a period of dominance towards the end of this era, it’s not because Djokovic/Nadal have faded. Or maybe it is, but that doesn’t diminish anything. You could equally argue that Nadal’s earlier dominance was because Djokovic/Murray hadn’t matured. They’re all in the same boat, they just peaked at different times.
Federer is the oldest of the Big Four. He won his first Slam two years before Nadal ever triumphed at Roland Garros. He’d already picked up twelve Grand Slams by the time Djokovic entered the fray with his maiden Slam. This would ordinarily muddy the waters when determining the best. Federer achieved great things, but mostly before the rest of the Big Four were really in power. From 2008 onward, Federer had to scrape and battle for a Grand Slam victory like the rest of the Big Four. And, more often than not, he’d fail.
But, he didn’t always fail. Despite his older age, he still picked up another five Slam’s during the peak of Big Four dominance. But this latest Slam—and the two Masters titles—is really significant.
Now, when the other members of the Big Four appear to be on the wane, here is Federer, advanced years and all, winning everything in sight.
Federer’s 2017: A Step Above
It’s precisely because timing seems unimportant that makes Federer, in my opinion, the greatest of his generation. While the other’s have been waxed and waned with maturity, injury, or mental fatigue, Federer has always been there. He dominated before they arrived. He took his fair share of scalps while they were around, and now. And now, with Murray and Djokovic AWOL. With Nadal still trying to adjust to playing in a way that doesn’t destroy his body, here is Federer, winning everything again.