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Is Roger Federer the greatest?

Roger Federer

Video - Federer against the legends (UK users only)

Roger Federer's victory over Andy Roddick in the 2009 men's Wimbledon final was a record 15th Grand Slam title for the Swiss sensation.

The win meant he moved clear of Pete Sampras in the record books.

But does that achievement make him the greatest tennis player of all time?

Some of the great and good of tennis gave their opinions on whether they thought Federer now trumps those that conquered before him.

PETE SAMPRAS, seven-time Wimbledon champion

Fourteen was a lot of titles in the 1990s and now he's got 15. He could go on to get 18 or 19 titles, and he's only 27. He'll win here for many years and at all the majors if he stays healthy.

Federer is the greatest ever - Sampras

He's humble and he's effortless and it doesn't seem like he's working that hard. His serve is big, has a great forehand, great spin and he's so smooth. He's a great athlete - he's got everything. He was a legend and now he's an icon. He's a credit to the game.

He is the greatest - I have to give it to him - some people say Rod Laver and Rafael Nadal but Roger has won all the majors and he's going to win a few more.

BJORN BORG, five-time Wimbledon winner

He'll play at least three more years and if he can stay healthy he can win more Grand Slams.

He's still eager to win and he's very professional. He always gives 100% and he will be in many more finals.

JOHN MCENROE, seven-time Grand Slam winner

He's the most gifted player that I've ever seen in my life - I've seen a lot of people play.

I've seen Laver, I played against some of the great players - Sampras, Boris Becker, Jimmy Connors, Borg.

This guy could be the greatest of all time. That, to me, says it all.

TIM HENMAN, four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist

I thought Roger was the best player of all time before this tournament and the fact that he just constantly adds to the record books simply confirms my thoughts.

To notch up 21 consecutive Grand Slam semis and be in 16 out of the last 17 Grand Slam finals is amazing.

BORIS BECKER, three-time Wimbledon champion

I believe he is the greatest player of all time - he has won grand slams on all four surfaces.

He is only 27 so he has a couple of good years left in him. His all-round game makes him so special and he really doesn't have a weakness.

GREG RUSEDSKI, former US Open finalist

There is no question about it, he is the greatest player of all time. He has done everything in the game and he will win many more titles.

He is still motivated to play, he has nothing more to prove and that just takes all the pressure off him again. Everytime we watch a Federer game he breaks another record, there always seems to be something. He is a legend. If the great Rod Laver says he is the best, nobody can argue.

SUE BARKER, BBC TV presenter


I do think he is the greatest player of all time, but it's a close run thing with Rod Laver. I think though tennis has moved on, there are more people playing now and it is tougher to be at the top of the game.

If you look at all his records, 21 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals, seven consecutive Wimbledon finals - he has just been so dominant. It's also the manner in which he plays the game, the finesse, the artistry, it is just beautiful. His whole game is total tennis and he is a brilliant player.

JOHN LLOYD Great Britain's Davis Cup captain

For me Roger Federer confirmed he is the greatest player of all time after winning the French Open.

He needed to do that at Roland Garros, but now he has, and taking in his overall record like reaching 21 successive Grand Slam semi-finals, he has to be the best of all time.

VIRGINIA WADE, 1977 Wimbledon Ladies' Singles champion

I think Roger is phenomenal, but you have to consider though that Laver was absolutely amazing too and if he hadn't turned professional and missed five years he would have achieved incredible success.

Rod was definitely one of the greatest and the way he played the game made you wonder why you ever bothered trying yourself.


It is a really difficult question to give you a yes or no to when the great Rod Laver played three out of four of his grand slams on grass surfaces.

But I think the answer is that Roger Federer is the greatest player I have personally ever seen. In terms of the way he plays the game he is the most elegant, artistic player I have ever watched and he mixes it with brutal power. So my vote would be for Roger.

CHRIS BAILEY, BBC TV commentator

Laver twice won all four majors in a year and Federer is yet to do that. If you take out the years that Laver couldn't play in because he had turned professional you begin to think, 'how many slams could Laver actually have won?'

I never saw the Australian play, but having watched Federer play he is an absolute genius. Whether he is the best of all time, it's a fine line. I'd say he is equal top with Laver.

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see also
Federer win breaks Sampras record
05 Jul 09 |  Tennis
Henman on Federer v Roddick
04 Jul 09 |  Tennis
Federer eases into seventh final
03 Jul 09 |  Tennis
Murray suffers semi-final misery
03 Jul 09 |  Tennis
Federer claims historic Paris win
07 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Federer never doubted Paris win
07 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Henman on Federer
08 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Sampras leads tributes to Federer
07 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Federer the greatest ever - Lloyd
07 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Federer weds long-term girlfriend
11 Apr 09 |  Tennis

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