Federer’s French fancies: Records and Roland Garros

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis
He is the defending champion, number one in the world, and the top seed
roger federer

Federer will hope to reach 700 tour-level wins at his next match

He is the defending champion, number one in the world, and the top seed.

He is one of Paris’ favourite players -at least he is once all the French contenders have been counted and found wanting. For the French are as susceptible to the grace of his game and the graciousness of his demeanour as every other tennis lover.

Yet Roger Federer is not the favourite to win the 2010 French Open.

This year the draw contains a stronger, fitter and more complete Rafael Nadal than the one who was beaten in 2009’s fourth round. He is the best that the terre battue has to offer, and he is the favourite for the title. Even Federer says so.

Roland Garros might nevertheless be the setting for a series of new Federer landmarks. It may also be the launch-pad for some important records.

In his next match, for example, Federer will hope to reach 700 tour-level wins and, coincidentally, 150 clay court wins. Impeccable timing comes naturally to the Swiss champion.

If he reaches the semi-finals, two more landmarks will be reached. First, he will notch up 200 Grand Slam match wins. But more significantly, he will achieve something that neither Björn Borg, nor Ivan Lendl nor even Nadal himself has managed: six consecutive semi-finals at the French Open. A fifth consecutive final would also see Federer outstrip all those champions.

As he reaches the final stages at Roland Garros, he will also increase the clear water between himself and the other greats of the Open era. With a semi-final place, Federer’s streak of consecutive Grand Slam semis reaches 24 -14 clear of Lendl and Rod Laver. If he reaches the final, it will be his 23rd overall: four clear of the next man, Lendl. If he wins the tournament, it will be his 17th Grand Slam: three clear of Pete Sampras.

But perhaps the most important task for Federer at Roland Garros is to retain his No.1 ranking. As of next week, he is guaranteed to achieve a total of 285 weeks as the best man in tennis, but his all-important target is the Sampras benchmark of 286 weeks.

Federer has only to reach the semifinals to stay at No.1 and add that record-breaking week. Should he fall short of the semis, only a win from Nadal or Novak Djokovic can deny him.

This is a significant watershed, for if Federer fails to seal the record at Roland Garros, his chances of regaining the No.1 spot are not good. He has big points to defend during the rest of the season, while Nadal has very few.

But perhaps the biggest prize in tennis -the Holy Grail -is the calendar Slam: all four Majors in a single year.

Three times Federer has held three at once and on two of those occasions he reached the final of the fourth. But the Slam has remained stubbornly elusive due, for the most part, to the ‘Nadal wall’ at Roland Garros.

In 2010, Federer has another chance. He holds the Australian, already. He now has to win in Paris, and that means he has to find the key to beating his clay-court Nemesis. It really is all to play for.

Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand: Chelsea FC have made the signing of the summer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Man United could sign 33-year-old midfielder on a free transfer – report
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
‘It might happen’: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer delivers latest Man United transfer update
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Piers Morgan (Photo: Piers Morgan / Twitter)
Piers Morgan reacts to Arsenal’s 2-1 win over West Ham United
Jurgen Klopp
Mark Lawrenson states his prediction for Chelsea FC v Liverpool FC
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Dimitar Berbatov states his prediction for Man United v Crystal Palace
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Ian Wright
Ian Wright admits Mesut Ozil situation at Arsenal is ‘devastating’
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
‘It might happen’: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer delivers latest Man United transfer update
Billie Jean King (Photo: Srdjan Stevanovic / ITF)
ITF announces that women’s tennis world cup to be renamed the Billie Jean King Cup