- Kamakshi Tandon
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A Grand Slam title is a Grand Slam title, but some are more memorable than others -- especially when a player has 17 of them. Here's a look at each of Roger Federer's major victories, ranked in order of their impact on his career and the sport.
1. French Open 2009
"The greatest victory of my career."
This was the victory that capped Federer's career. At last, he had a French Open title, a career Slam, a record-tying 14th Grand Slam and, for many, a definitive claim as the greatest of all time.
It didn't come easily. Rafael Nadal's shocking defeat to Robin Soderling had made the tournament Federer's to lose, and he came out a bundle of nerves for his next match against Tommy Haas, going down two sets and facing break point before a stunning forehand winner turned the match his way. He came through another tight encounter in the semifinals against Juan Martin del Potro and swept past Soderling in the final, roaring as he dropped to his knees.
Federer's well-known record of futility at French Open -- three straight losses in the final, all to Nadal -- helped make it one of the most celebrated tournament wins in tennis history. The retired Justine Henin watched and was inspired to make a comeback. Haas decided his quarterfinal loss had been worth it. And the delighted reaction from players and the public continued well into the days ahead.
2. Wimbledon 2003
"A dream come true."
This is where it all began -- after it almost didn't. Having hurt his back against Feliciano Lopez in the fourth round, Federer was worried he wouldn't even be able to play in the quarterfinals. That would have stopped his victory in its tracks, but he managed to play and win easily, helped by Sjeng Schalken's illness. Then came a sublime performance against Andy Roddick in the semifinals -- the world's introduction to his free-flowing game -- and a fall to his knees after defeating Mark Philippoussis in the final.
Still wearing a ponytail and stubble in those days, Federer lifted the trophy and cried in front of Grand Slam viewers for the first time. It would not be the last.
3. Australian Open 2007
"I almost shocked myself how well I played." -- on the semifinal
The dominant victories are more easily forgotten than the dramatic escapes and unexpected wins, so this one -- the most dominant of them all -- stands high to represent the others. Not a set lost, a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 mauling of Roddick in the semifinals and a straightforward handling of red-hot Fernando Gonzalez in the finals, this was Federer in full flight, and he may never have played better.
4. Wimbledon 2012
"I was almost shocked in the moment that it all came together so nicely."
The trophy seemed like a distant prospect when Federer was two sets to love down and receiving treatment on his back in a third-round match against Julien Benneteau. After wriggling through that match, Federer found the injury was a manageable one and caught lightning in a bottle during a semifinal against a slightly subdued Novak Djokovic.
After a slow start in the final against Andy Murray, Federer finished playing truly magnificent tennis under the closed Centre Court roof.
A record-tying seventh Wimbledon and record-extending 17th Grand Slam, it was also the first with his twin daughters in the stands.
"When I won in 2003, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would win Wimbledon and have my kids seeing me lift the trophy," Federer said.
5. Wimbledon 2009
"It definitely feels like it's come full circle for me."
Still riding the wave of his heady win at the French Open, Federer took his sixth Wimbledon title and 15th Grand Slam, breaking the all-time record that had been held by Pete Sampras. It was done with a flourish -- a 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 3-6, 16-14 victory over Roddick that stands as the greatest Grand Slam final Federer has won.
"I had a feeling at the changeovers that we would be there all summer long, that they would close the roof, people would sleep all night and wake up and me and Andy would still be there, beards growing, holding serve," said Federer.
He eventually emerged the winner, though Roddick's valiant effort and humor in defeat won him hearts. Just a couple of weeks later, Federer and his wife, Mirka, became the father of twin girls, rounding off the most glorious summer of his career.
6. US Open 2008
"Emotionally I was much more alive than before."
Federer's loss to Nadal in their epic Wimbledon match earlier in the summer had sparked serious talk of his decline, especially on the heels of his mono-affected struggles to start the year. But feeling good after winning doubles gold at the Olympics and buoyed by a new level of support from a sympathetic public, he quelled the furor by winning a Grand Slam for the sixth year in a row. His toughest match was a five-setter against Igor Andreev in the quarterfinal, which was followed by wins over Djokovic in the semifinals and Murray in the Scot's first Grand Slam final.
What had been labeled decline came to be seen as merely the end of dominance. His days of winning big titles were not over.
7. Australian Open 2004
"Getting to No. 1 was a goal, but winning the title was bigger."
Federer became No. 1 by defeating Juan Carlos Ferrero in the semifinals and cemented his new position by beating Marat Safin in the final. After parting ways with Peter Lundgren at the end of 2003, it was also Federer's first Grand Slam without a coach.
8. US Open 2004
"Not even my wildest dreams I would have ever thought I'm going to win the US Open."
Winning the US Open for the first time established him as a dominant champion, especially after destroying former champ Lleyton Hewitt 6-0, 7-6(3), 6-0 in the final. But the seminal moment was the "wind match" against Andre Agassi in the quarterfinals. A fifth-set win against the crowd favorite in gale-like conditions swept away his reputation for being a bad wind player and the perception that the US Open would be a difficult tournament for him to win.
9. Wimbledon 2007
"It's a very special memory."
This less-remembered five-set Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal allowed Federer to tie Bjorn Borg and Sampras with five straight Wimbledon titles. Federer won after escaping break points on his serve in two games early in the fifth set to come through 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2 and told the crowd, "I'm happy with every one I get before he starts winning them all."
The match ended in brilliant sunshine washing over an open Centre Court, whose edges had been removed to make way for the new roof being built for the following year. Borg was in attendance and shared a few moments with Federer afterward.
10. Australian Open 2010
"I think I played some of my best tennis again."
A year after losing to Nadal in five sets in the final and breaking into tears in the postmatch ceremony, Federer dropped just two sets on his way to a 16th Grand Slam title, easily handling a stiff-legged Murray in the finals. This time, it was Murray's turn to tear up in the postmatch ceremony, saying, "I can cry like Roger. It's a shame I can't play like him."
It was Federer's third title -- and fourth final -- in four Slams, a resurgence so dominant it was hard to tell he would not win another major for two and a half years.
11. US Open 2007
"I think about it a lot now, honestly." -- on Sampras' Grand Slam record
There was no sign that a year would pass before Federer won another major.
He navigated his way through some tricky matches and handily contained an emerging Djokovic in the Serb's first Grand Slam final. Federer's 12th Grand Slam, it was also the third year in his career that he won three of the four Grand Slams.
12. Wimbledon 2004
"I'm even happier than last year."
Defending his Wimbledon title showed Federer's staying power, separating him from the ranks of recent one- and two-time Grand Slam champs. He got all he could handle from Roddick in the final, almost going down two sets before rain intervened.
"I threw everything and the kitchen sink at him, but he went to the bathroom and got the tub," said Roddick.
13. Wimbledon 2005
"The second one was a huge relief. The first one is the first one. ... Today, it seemed like I was playing flawless."
While winning his third Wimbledon title, he underlined his dominance over his generation by beating contemporary No. 1s Ferrero, Hewitt and Roddick without losing a set.
14. Wimbledon 2006
"It's important for me to win a finals against him for a change and beat him for a change."
This tournament may be most memorable as the infamous "jacket" year -- the white blazer Federer wore while walking on court. It was also the first of the Federer-Nadal Wimbledon finals, with Federer stopping a four-match losing streak against his new rival by winning in four sets. It marked a fourth Wimbledon title in a row and eighth Grand Slam overall.
15. Australian Open 2006
"I really had to battle."
Federer played only one top 20 opponent during the tournament but had tough matches against Haas, Nicolas Kiefer and Nikolay Davydenko. He dropped the first set of the final against Marcos Baghdatis before stopping the Cypriot's crowd-pleasing run and charmed onlookers himself by crying all over Rod Laver during the ceremony.
16. US Open 2006
"It's been a fantastic season."
Only two Americans -- Roddick and James Blake -- took sets from him, and he never looked in danger of losing. Aside from a short run by Roddick, the most noted aspect of the final was that Tiger Woods was in the stands to watch Federer, beginning their well-known friendship.
17. US Open 2005
"Tying your idols, isn't that great? You know, I think it's every little boy's dream."
Defeating sentimental favorite Agassi in the final gave Federer his sixth Grand Slam title, tying him with childhood heroes Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg. Federer also defeated David Nalbandian and Hewitt along the way.
Roger Federer has won 17 Grand Slam titles, and every one of them has been special in its own way, Kamakshi Tandon writes.