Wimbledon 2017 - Records keep tumbling as Roger rolls on
Roger Federer got his Wimbledon 2017 campaign off to a silky-smooth start, albeit helped by his Ukrainian opponent Alexandr Dolgopolov's retirement when the Swiss was up 6-3, 3-0. Yet what would have been a routine day at the office for most players brought more milestones for Federer.
As is the preserve of the greats, Roger Federer is at a stage of his career at which he does not have to bend over backwards (although the soon-to-be 36-year-old – who has won more Grand Slam singles titles than any other man – has had to be flexible, as evidenced most clearly by his heavy-hearted decision to skip the recent clay season so as to protect his back) in order to make history.
The latest example came today, Tuesday 4 July 2017, on the lawns of the All-England Club. No sooner had the umpire called time at the beginning of the seven-time Wimbledon champion's clash against the Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov, than the Swiss joined French legend Fabrice Santoro as the joint-holder of the record for the most Grand Slam tournaments played (70). Since making his bow at Roland-Garros in 1999, Federer has plundered 18 crowns (and counting) on tennis's four biggest stages and, to boot, been absent from the sport's marquee events a measly four times (at the 1999 and 2016 US Open, and Roland-Garros 2016 and 2017).
First Grand Slam appearance: Roland-Garros 1999
Federer hasn't lost in Round 1 of a Grand Slam for 14 years, since falling at the first hurdle at the 2003 French Open – a record run that the 35-year-old extended today, having left Jimmy Connors' previous mark in the dust en route to glory at this January's Australian Open.
Moreover, Dolgopolov's retirement after just 12 games, when trailing 6-3, 3-0, may have denied the Centre Court crowd the pleasure of watching the Swiss maestro in action for a full match, but that set and a half was still long enough for them to witness 'FedEx' becoming just the third man ever to enter the 10,000-ace club, and the first non-Croat, after Ivo Karlovic (12,000-odd) and Goran Ivanisevic (10,131). This achievement puts him on another level to countless heralded bombardiers past and present, including three big-serving American musketeers in the shape of John Isner, Andy Roddick and Pete Sampras.
As if that wasn't enough, Federer's win just so happened to be his 85th at Wimbledon. You guessed it: this is yet another record, eclipsing another of Connors' long-standing tallies. Considering he similarly leads the way for victories at the Australian Open (87), and lies third in the charts at the US Open (78) and second – to Rafael Nadal, naturally enough – at Roland-Garros (65), it will come as no surprise that the Basel-born star is also the man with the most Grand Slam match wins (315).
Federer has the opportunity to equal Serena Williams' overall record of 316 in his second-round encounter at Wimbledon; do so, and he will stay on course for more monumental milestones on the grass over the next week and a half or so.