A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this article which detailed a young Spanish gentleman who fell into a coma in late 2004 only to awaken in August of this year. At that time, the tennis atmosphere was very different, Federer only won his 4th Slam by winning the US Open that year and Djokovic and Nadal were relative unknowns. 11 years later, the Swiss is still a major force in the sport, currently ranked No. 2 and reaching two Grand Slam finals in 2015. Nowadays, tennis pundits love to debate whether he’s the greatest ever by naming of all his achievements and accolades. Most would not dispute that he’s the greatest ever while others would argue how that could be the case when he fares with his modern contemporaries.
One area that I feel that doesn’t get much concentration and analysis is how Federer fared in his age group for e.g. Hewitt, Safin, Nalbandian and Roddick. Below is the year end rankings for 2004. How did he fare?
© ATP World Tour
1. Andy Roddick
Reached three Wimbledon finals, with the 2009 edition being the most memorable with a gallant five set loss to Federer. Didn’t fare well against Federer, only winning 3 of the 24 matches they played. A constant fixture in the top 10, before retiring after the 2012 US Open.
2. Lleyton Hewitt
The only active player on that 2004 list apart from Federer and has announced that he’s retiring after the 2016 Australian Open. Unfortunate to have played in Federer’s era, even though he had his measure early on only to lose to him 15 straight times.
3. Marat Safin
Hugely talented Russian player who called it quits after the 2009 season. Only beat Federer twice in 12 meetings but his win against the dominant Swiss at the 2005 Australian Open was the most memorable of them all. Regarded as an underachiever.
4. Carlos Moya
Never managed to beat Federer in seven meetings but we shouldn’t forget that Moya was a French Open champion and a former World No. 1. Found himself ranked No. 5 in 2004 after a consistent season in the Masters Series tournaments even though he was past his prime.
5. Tim Henman
Most will be surprised, but the Brit actually had Federer’s measure in their first six meetings before Federer blitzed their last six. Henman reached two Grand Slam semi-finals in 2004 and enjoyed a resurgence after a disappointing 2003. I’m sure his failure to win Wimbledon will be his biggest regret.
6. Guillermo Coria
The pair only met three times, with Federer winning all three. Coria, regarded as a clay court specialist never recovered from his 2004 French Open loss to Gaudio and went on a downward spiral after that. The former World No. 3 virtually disappeared from tour after 2006 before retiring in 2009.
7. Andre Agassi
Agassi, the ageless American who at that time was 34 and still striving to be the best. Fared well early on against Federer, winning their first three clashes before losing the next eight. Their matches at the 2004 and 2005 US Open stand out from the rest.
8. David Nalbandian
The talented Argentine, who caused Federer a world of trouble early on before injuries dented his progress was a former World No. 3 and a former Wimbledon finalist. Their highlight match was no doubt their finals clash at the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup, with Nalbandian winning in five after losing the first two sets.
9. Gaston Gaudio
Gaudio, another bunch of talented Argentinian tennis players crashed onto the scene by winning the 2004 French Open. His matches against will be ones he’ll least want to remember, with a double bagel against the Swiss in the semi-finals of the Tennis Masters Cup. Retired in 2011.