Analyzing what serve return statistics really mean - NBC Sports

Analyzing what serve return statistics really mean
Murray's break point conversion ranking is surprisingly low
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While Andy Murray is in the top five in three of the four return categories,ÿbreak point conversion percentage is an area in which he needs to improve.
July 25, 2011, 1:07 pm

Howdy. Yesterday, we looked at the mid-season stats pertaining to service game leaders; today we'll take a survey of the return game leaders and numbers. We've seen how in almost any department that involves percentages, large numbers of players are bunched together within a few points of each other - stats that underscore not just the high level of performance in the ATP these days, but also the fact that best players are the ones who win the important or big points, even though there's no statistical category for that most important of elements. That tendency breaks down a bit in the return stats, as we'll see.

I was talking about this issue with the ATP's Greg Sharko in Miami this year, and he asked what stat, if any, I'd like to see measured. While I'm not a stats freak, I suggested that it might be useful to measure success on "critical points." I'd probably designate those points as the ones played at 30-all or later in any given match. Of course, this would fail to track how often a guy wins or loses a game from 40-love up, or down, and various other scenarios. If there's a statistical category you'd like to see, post it in the comments below, or send it to me via the "Contact" tab up above.

So let's get into serve return stats.

Points Won Returning First Serve
As soon as you look at the return game leaders stats, the name jumps right out at you: Andy Murray. It's a name that was almost entirely absent from our service game stats and speculations, which tells you something. Murray is No. 4 in the world, and he wins with his defense. His return game. He's among the top 5 in three of the four categories that make up the stats (and No. 7 in the fourth).

In this category, the rankings ought to be kept in perspective because of the bunching element. For example, the top 7 men here are within two percentage points of Murray's tour-leading 37 percent. Still, would you have guessed that Juan Ignacio Chela and Juan Monaco are at Nos. 2 and 3 respectively? Or that Rafael Nadal would be ranked slightly higher than Novak Djokovic in this department (he's No. 4, Djokovic is No. 5)?

Andy Roddick is ranked No. 58 in this category (at 28 percent), and the two men at the bottom of the list are very familiar ones at or near the top of most serving categories - John Isner (24 percent) and Ivo Karlovic (20 percent).

What I love about this stat is that even though the numbers are significantly smaller than in the First Serve Points Won category, the spread is comparable. The 66 ranked men in FSPW are within 16 percentage points of each other, between 64 and 80 percent. In this first-serve returns won category, the ranked men range between 20 and 37 percent - a 17-point spread. So it gives us a nice sense of how bunched together the leading men are in either a high-conversion stat (first serves won) or a low-conversion department.

Biggest Surprise: It's got to be Fognini.

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Rafael Nadal's career highlights

/NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110605_Nadal_FrenchOpen_2011_v.jpgFrench Open (2011)dapdLaurent Baheux/apIn a match that lasted nearly four hours, Rafael Nadal dispatched Roger Federer by a 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 6-1 score to win his 10th Grand Slam singles title overall and tie Bjorn Borg's record with his sixth French Open men's singles crown. It was the fourth time he had beaten Federer in the Roland Garros final and improved his record against his rival to 6-2 in Slam finals and 17-8 overall. The victory pushed Nadal's career record at Roland Garros to 45-1./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_Barcelona_2011_h.jpgBarcelona Open (2011)Getty ImagesDavid RamosRafael Nadal won his sixth career title at the Barcelona Open in dominant fashion, losing a total of just 15 games before topping David Ferrer 6-2, 6-4 in the final on April 24, 2011. He followed that up with runner-up finishes to Novak Djokovic in Madrid and Rome, marking the first time in his career he had lost two clay-court finals in a single season./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_MonteCarlo_2011_v.jpgMonte Carlo Masters (2011)Getty ImagesJulian FinneyAfter runner-up finishes to Novak Djokovic on the hard courts in Indian Wells and Miami, Rafael Nadal claimed his first title of the year on April 17, 2011 when he beat David Ferrer 6-4, 7-5 in Monte Carlo. The win made him the first men's player to take an ATP Tour tournament title seven straight years and marked the 44th title of his career. Nadal lost just one set in Monte Carlo (in the semis against Andy Murray)./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_Laureus_2011_v.jpgLaureus World Sports Awards (2011)Getty Images for LaureusBryn LennonBeating out the category's other nominees - Lionel Messi, Sebastian Vettel, Andres Iniesta, Kobe Bryant and Manny Pacquiao -- Rafael Nadal and his impressive accomplishments the previous year were honored with the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award on Feb. 7, 2011./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_AustralianOpen_2011_h.jpgAustralian Open (2011)AFP/Getty ImagesGreg WoodSuffering an injury in his quarterfinal match against David Ferrer at the 2011 Australian Open, Rafael Nadal fell in straight sets (6-4, 6-2, 6-3). The loss ended his attempt to win four major tournaments in a row./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_WorldTourFinals_2010_h.jpgWorld Tour Finals (2010)AFP/Getty ImagesGlyn KirkAfter earning three wins in the round-robin stage of the World Tour Finals for the first time in his career, Rafael Nadal went on to earn a spot in the championship match against Roger Federer. But Nadal couldn't win his first year-end title, falling by a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 score to the Swiss player on Nov. 28, 2010. Just seven days earlier, Nadal won the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the first time./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_Shanghai_2010_h.jpgShanghai Masters (2010)Getty ImagesVictor FraileA third-round 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 loss to Jurgen Melzer at the Shanghai Masters meant the end of Rafael Nadal's record streak of 21 consecutive quarterfinals reached at Masters events./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_Tokyo_2010_h.jpgJapan Open (2010)Getty ImagesKiyoshi OtaCapturing his seventh title of the season, Rafael Nadal beat Gael Monfils 6-1, 7-5 in the final in Tokyo on Oct. 10, 2010. To set up his win, Nadal had to save two match points in the final-set tiebreak of his semifinal match against Viktor Troicki (winning 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (7))./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_USOpen_2010_v.jpgU.S. Open (2010)AFP/Getty ImagesStan HondaRafael Nadal's 2010 U.S. Open singles title gave him not just a career Grand Slam but a career Golden Slam (wins at every major plus Olympic gold). Nadal didn't drop a set en route to the final, where he relegated Novak Djokovic to runner-up status with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory. Becoming the first left-handed player to win the U.S. Open since 1984, Nadal also clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_Wimbledon_2010_h.jpgWimbledon (2010)AFP/Getty ImagesAdrian DennisSurviving five-set scares from Robin Haase in the second round and Philipp Petzchner in the third round, Rafael Nadal ultimately earned a spot in the Wimbledon final, where he beat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 on July 4, 2010. The win gave Nadal his eighth Grand Slam singles title./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_FrenchOpen_2010_h.jpgFrench Open (2010)AFP/Getty ImagesBoris HorvatWith his French Open title on June 6, 2010, Rafael Nadal earned an impressive "Clay Slam" (taking the titles at all three Masters series as well as at Roland Garros). Not only did his 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory in the final over Robin Soderling give him his seventh Grand Slam singles title overall, but it also marked the second time he had won the French Open without dropping a single set. With Roger Federer's defeat in the semifinals, Nadal regained the No. 1 world ranking./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_Madrid_2010_v.jpgMadrid Masters (2010)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillWinning his third straight Masters event and setting the record for Masters title wins with his 18th, Rafael Nadal captured the crown in Madrid. Although he lost just his second set on clay all year in a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 semifinal victory over Nicolas Almagro, Nadal ultimately avenged his 2009 Madrid loss to Roger Federer by defeating his Swiss rival 6-5, 7-5 (5) in the 2010 final on May 16./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_Rome_2010_v.jpgRome Masters (2010)Getty ImagesIan WaltonRafael Nadal captured the title in Rome with a 7-5, 6-2 defeat of David Ferrer in the final. It was his 17th Masters series title, tying him with Andre Agassi for most ever. But while Agassi won his 17th at the age of 34, Nadal was just 23./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_MonteCarlo_2010_h.jpgMonte Carlo Masters (2010)Getty ImagesJulian FinneyAfter finishing as the runner-up in his first two tournaments of the year, pulling out due to injury in the Australian Open quarterfinals and losing in the semifinals in both Indian Wells and in Miami, Rafael Nadal finally picked up his first title of the season (and first in 11 months) with a 6-0, 6-1 drubbing of Fernando Verdasco at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 18, 2010. Nadal lost just 14 games throughout his five matches at the event./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_DavisCup_2009_v.jpgDavis Cup (2009)AFP/Getty ImagesJosep LagoPlaying in his second Davis Cup final, Rafael Nadal (third from left) helped Spain -- and teammates (L-R) Feliciano Lopez, David Ferrer, captain Albert Costa and Fernando Verdasco -- win in 2009. Defeating Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic to give Spain's its first point in singles, Nadal also contributed another singles win after his nation already had secured its win on Dec. 6, 2009, improving his personal Davis Cup singles record to 14-1. Nadal finished the year ranked No. 2 for the fourth time in five years and captured the Golden Bagel Award by inflicting nine 6-0 blankings during the year's ATP Tour action./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_FrenchOpen_2009_h.jpgFrench Open (2009)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillAlthough earlier in the tournament he broke Bjorn Borg's record with his 29th straight match win at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal would extend that mark just to 31 before falling in the fourth round in a huge upset to Robin Soderling (6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2)). It was Nadal's first loss ever at the tournament. Nadal later revealed he was suffering from tendinitis in both of his knees, an ailment that forced him to withdraw from his next tournament and from Wimbledon. Roger Federer's Wimbledon victory dropped Nadal to No. 2 in the world rankings./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_Rome_2009_h.jpgRome Masters (2009)Getty ImagesJulian FinneyExtending his clay-court win streak to 30 (including three clay titles in a three-week stretch), Rafael Nadal captured his 15th Masters series title with a 7-6 (2), 6-2 victory over Novak Djokovic in Rome. While Djokovic had the edge in winners (23 to 19) in the match, Nadal committed just 22 unforced errors to Djokovic's 40./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_Barcelona_2009_v.jpgBarcelona Open (2009)Getty ImagesJasper JuinenIn a rematch of the 2008 Barcelona Open final, Rafael Nadal ended up beating David Ferrer once again, this time by a 6-2, 7-5 score. Ferrer did break Nadal three times in the title match on April 26, 2009, which marked the only times the No. 1 seed lost his serve the entire tournament./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_MonteCarlo_2009_h.jpgMonte Carlo Masters (2009)Getty ImagesMichael SteeleSetting an Open era record by becoming the first male player to win the same ATP Masters series event for five consecutive years, Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 in the final on April 19, 2009.His one-set slip-up in the final marked the first time he had lost a set at the tournament since the 2006 final against Roger Federer./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_IndianWells_2009_v.jpgIndian Wells Masters (2009)AFP/Getty ImagesRobyn BeckTriumphing in windy conditions, Rafael Nadal cruised past Andy Murray to take the Indian Wells Masters title by a 6-1, 6-2 score. It marked the 13th Masters title of his career./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_AustralianOpen_2009_v.jpgAustralian Open (2009)AFP/Getty ImagesGreg WoodAlthough Rafael Nadal didn't drop a set in his first five matches at the 2009 Australian Open, his route to the championship got harder from then on. First in the semifinals he had to outlast Fernando Verdasco in the longest match in tournament history (5 hours and 14 minutes), then in the final he had to battle rival Roger Federer in their first-ever meeting in a hard-court Grand Slam tournament. Nadal pulled out a 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 victory, becoming the first Spaniard ever to win the Australian Open and the first male tennis player to hold three Slam singles titles on three different surfaces at the same time. When Federer broke down after the match, Nadal was there to comfort him./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_PrinceofAsturiasAward_2008_h.jpgPrince of Asturias Awards (2008)AFP/Getty ImagesMiguel RiopaRecognizing his remarkable accomplishments in the 2008 tennis season, Spain presented Rafael Nadal with the Prince of Asturias Award for Sport on Oct. 24, 2008. Spain's Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia were on hand for the ceremony, where Nadal was praised for his "commitment to the most noble sports values both in and outside of the court."/NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_MadridMasters_2008_v.jpgMadrid Masters (2008)AFP/Getty ImagesPierre-philippe MarcouDespite losing in the semifinals of the Mutua Madrilena Masters (falling to Gilles Simon 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (6) on Oct. 18, 2008 in a match where Simon saved 17 break point chances against his serve), Rafael Nadal still ensured he would finish the year with the No. 1 world ranking. That made him the first Spaniard in the Open era to accomplish that feat./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_Olympics_2008_h.jpgBeijing Olympics (2008)AFP/Getty ImagesBehrouz MehriWith wins over Italy's Potito Starace, Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, Russia's Igor Andreev, Austria's Jurgen Melzer (in the quarterfinals) and Serbia's Novak Djokovic (in the semis), Rafael Nadal secured Olympic gold for himself and the first-ever men's singles gold for Spain with a 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3 victory over Chile's Fernando Gonzalez on Aug. 17, 2008 in Beijing./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_CincinnatiMasters_2008_v.jpgCincinnati Masters (2008)Getty ImagesRonald MartinezA 7-6 (3), 6-1 defeat of Nicolas Lapentti in the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters coupled with Roger Federer's third-round defeat at the same tournament ensured Rafael Nadal would take over as the No. 1 ranking in men's tennis. Federer had held the top spot for four and a half years. Despite losing to Novak Djokovic 6-1, 7-5 in the Cincinnati semis, Nadal also still clinched the US Open Series title./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_RogersCup_2008_v.jpgRogers Cup (2008)Getty ImagesKevin C. CoxWith a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Nicolas Kiefer in the final of the 2008 Rogers Cup, Rafael Nadal won his fifth straight title. At 22 years, one month and 24 days old, he also became the third-youngest player to win 30 ATP titles./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_Wimbledon_2008_v.jpgWimbledon (2008)AFP/Getty ImagesAdrian DennisAfter four hours and 48 minutes battling on the court (broken up by two rain delays), Rafael Nadal ended Roger Federer's five-year reign as Wimbledon champion with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7 victory in a match called by many to be the greatest ever. It was nearly completely dark by the time Nadal finally snapped Federer's streak of 65 straight wins on grass and became the third man in the Open era to win both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. Nadal, who was broken just once in the match, also was the first Spaniard to win the Wimbledon crown since 1966./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_ArtoisChampionships_2008_h.jpgArtois Championships (2008)Getty ImagesJulian FinneyPrior to playing at Queen's Club in 2008, Rafael Nadal's 27 career ATP Tour titles had come on either clay or hard courts. But he captured his first grass title on June 15, 2008, beating Novak Djokovic 7-6 (6), 7-5 in the Artois Championships final. It marked the first time since 1972 that a Spanish man had won a title on grass./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_FrenchOpen_2008_v.jpgFrench Open (2008)AFP/Getty ImagesJacques DemarthonNot only did Rafael Nadal win in straight sets in the French Open championship match (inflicting Roger Federer with his first bagel since 1999 and recording a 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 score), but he also became the fifth man in the Open era to win the Roland Garros title without losing a single set in any of his matches. Nadal's feat also made him the fourth men's player to win the same Grand Slam singles title four straight years in the Open era./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_HamburgMasters_2008_v.jpgHamburg Masters (2008)Bongarts/Getty ImagesKrafft AngererAvenging his the Hamburg final loss he suffered the previous year against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal reclaimed the Masters title with a 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-3 victory over his rival on May 18, 2008. /NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_BarcelonaOpen_2008_h.jpgBarcelona Open (2008)AFP/Getty ImagesJosep LagoWinning the Barcelona Open for the fourth straight time, Rafael Nadal improved his record on clay to 117-3 since the start of the 2005 season with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 championship victory over David Ferrer on May 4, 2008./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_MonteCarloMasters_2008_v.jpgMonte Carlo Masters (2008)AFP/Getty ImagesStephane DannaBecoming the first player since 1914 to win four successive titles at Monte Carlo, Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in the final at the event for the third straight year, winning by a 7-5, 7-5 score on April 27, 2008. Federer had two one-break leads in the opening set and had a 4-0 lead in the second set before Nadal rallied to take the straight-set victory./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110514_Nadal_AustralianOpen_2008_h.jpgAustralian Open (2008)Getty ImagesClive RoseMaking his farthest run in the Australian Open up to that point, Rafael Nadal made it to the semis before falling in straight sets to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. While Nadal didn't earn a break point chance until the third set, he was broken five times on Jan. 24, 2008 in Melbourne./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110509_Nadal_MercedesCup_2007_v.jpgMercedes Cup (2007) Bongarts/Getty ImagesAlexander HassensteinDespite trailing in both the first and second sets of the Mercedes Cup final against Stanislas Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal bounced back to win each and take the match 6-4, 7-5. It was Nadal's sixth title of the season and 23rd of his career./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110509_Nadal_Wimbledon_2007_h.jpgWimbledon (2007)Getty ImagesRyan PierseAlthough he forced Roger Federer to his first five-set match at Wimbledon since 2001, Rafael Nadal couldn't keep the Swiss player from capturing his fifth straight championship at the All England Club. The final score was 7-6 (7), 4-6, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-2. Nadal suffered a knee injury in the final which subsequently plagued him during the second half of the 2007 tennis season./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110509_Nadal_FrenchOpen_2007_v.jpgFrench Open (2007)AFP/Getty ImagesThomas CoexBecoming the first man in 27 years to win three straight French Open titles, Rafael Nadal topped Roger Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final at Roland Garros in 2007. In the match, Nadal saved 16 of 17 break points against his serve while breaking Federer on four of 10 chances. /NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110509_Nadal_HamburgMasters_2007_h.jpgHamburg Masters (2007)Bongarts/Getty ImagesStuart FranklinRafael Nadal's winning streak on clay stretched all the way to 81 matches before it finally was snapped by Roger Federer on May 20, 2007. Competing in Germany, Federer picked up a 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 victory over Nadal in the final of the Hamburg Masters. Nadal's streak, which included 13 titles, was the longest on any surface in tennis./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110509_Nadal_RomeMasters_2007_h.jpgRome Masters (2007)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillAt the Rome Masters, Rafael Nadal lost a set on clay for the first time in 2007 (dropping one in a 3 1/2-hour semifinal battle against Nikolay Davydenko), but he didn't lose the title. Nadal powered past Fernando Gonzalez by a 6-2, 6-2 score in the final./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110509_Nadal_BattleoftheSurfaces_2007_v.jpgBattle of the Surfaces (2007)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillOn May 2, 2007, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer challenged each other in an exhibition match on a unique court that was half clay and half grass. The venue cost well over $1 million and took 19 days to prepare. While Federer won just as many points on grass as he did on clay, Nadal won seven fewer than Federer on grass and 12 more on clay, ultimately capturing a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (10) victory in Mallorca, Spain. /NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110509_Nadal_BarcelonaOpen_2007_h.jpgBarcelona Open (2007)AFP/Getty ImagesCesar RangelRafael Nadal used a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Guillermo Canas to win the Barcelona Open title. He didn't lose a set during the tournament, and in fact continued a streak where he hadn't dropped a single set on clay since the French open final the previous year. But while he won the singles title, Nadal couldn't take a title sweep in Barcelona; he lost in the men's doubles final in straight sets on April 29, 2007./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110509_Nadal_MonteCarloMasters_2007_h.jpgMonte Carlo Masters (2007)AFP/Getty ImagesValery HacheAlthough Roger Federer saved two match points in the 2007 Monte Carlo Masters final, he couldn't keep Rafael Nadal from winning the third. The 6-4, 6-4 victory gave Nadal his third straight title at the event and the 19th singles title of his career./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110509_Nadal_IndianWells_2007_v.jpgPacific Life Open (2007)AFP/Getty ImagesHector MataSnapping a stretch of 12 tournaments (across eight months) without a title, Rafael Nadal didn't lose a single set en route to winning in Indian Wells, Calif. He topped Novak Djokovic, 6-2, 7-5, in the final on March 18, 2007./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110506_Nadal_LaureusAwards_2006_h.jpgLaureus World Sports Awards (2006)Getty Images for LaureusDavid CannonIn addition to winning the Laureus Newcomer of the Year Award -- with distinguished guest Juan Carlos I (center), the King of Spain, on hand -- Rafael Nadal also finished the tennis season ranked No. 2. He was the first player since Andre Agassi in 1994-95 to end consecutive years second in the rankings./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110506_Nadal_Wimbledon_2006_h.jpgWimbledon (2006)Getty ImagesPhil ColeWhile Rafael Nadal became the first Spanish men's player since 1966 to reach the Wimbledon final, he couldn't capture the crown on July 9, 2006. Roger Federer won his fourth straight Wimbledon title, beating Nadal 6-0, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-3./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110506_Nadal_FrenchOpen_2006_h.jpgFrench Open (2006)AFP/Getty ImagesBertrand GuayAfter setting a new record for consecutive wins on clay with his first-round victory, Rafael Nadal just kept building on that mark. Nadal defended his French Open title and became the first player to defeat Roger Federer in a Grand Slam final, topping the No. 1 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4). While Federer had 51 unforced errors in the final, Nadal had just 28. The defeat pushed Federer's record to that point in 2006 to 44-4, with all four losses coming against Nadal./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110506_Nadal_RomeMasters_2006_v.jpgRome Masters (2006)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillRafael Nadal's 6-7 (0), 7-6 (5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5) victory over Roger Federer on May 14, 2006 in the final of the Rome Masters lasted five hours and five minutes. Nadal had to save two match points in the fifth set before pulling out the win. The title was the 16th of his career, tying him with Bjorn Borg for most titles captured by a teenager. /NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110506_Nadal_BarcelonaOpen_2006_v.jpgBarcelona Open (2006)AFP/Getty ImagesCesar RangelWith his 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 victory over fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo (right) in the final of the 2006 Barcelona Open, Rafael Nadal moved past Bjorn Borg's mark and into second place on the all-time clay win streak list with 47 straight wins./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110506_Nadal_DubaiOpen_2006_h.jpgDubai Open (2006)AFP/Getty ImagesRabih MoghrabiAfter missing the Australian Open due to a foot injury and falling in the Open 13 semifinals in February in his first tournament of the year, Rafael Nadal bounced back at the Dubai Duty Free Men's Open. Competing against Roger Federer, who was undefeated up to that point in the season, Nadal dropped the first set in the hard-court final before rallying for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory on March 4, 2006./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110506_Nadal_MonteCarloMasters_2006_v.jpgMonte Carlo Masters (2006)Getty ImagesMichael SteeleRetaining his Monte Carlo Masters title on April 23, 2006 with a 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal built his streak on clay to 42 straight wins. Federer didn't help his cause in the match, committing 78 unforced errors against the 19-year-old./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_MadridMasters_2005_h.jpgMadrid Masters (2005)AFP/Getty ImagesPierre-philippe MarcouRallying from two sets down in front of a supportive crowd in Madrid, Rafael Nadal won his 11th title of the season and fourth Masters title with a 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory over Ivan Ljubicic. Nadal's 2005 feats earned him the ATP Tour's Most Improved Player of the Year award./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_ChinaOpen_2005_h.jpgChina Open (2005)AFP/Getty ImagesFrederic J. BrownOvercoming a one-set deficit, Rafael Nadal rallied to beat Guillermo Coria 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 and claim the China Open title. The win helped him equal Roger Federer with his 10th title and gave him 72 total match wins in the season to Federer's 71./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110503_Nadal_RogersCup_2005_v.jpgRogers Cup (2005)Getty ImagesMatthew StockmanCapturing his first career hard-court title, Rafael Nadal knocked off three-time champion Andre Agassi, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, in the final of the Canada Masters on Aug. 14, 2005 in Montreal. His title-game victory was his 65th match win of the 2005 season./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_MercedesCup_2005_h.jpgSweden Open / Mercedes Cup (2005)AFP/Getty ImagesJohannes SimonWith title victories at the Sweden Open (captured on July 10 with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Tomas Berdych) and the Mercedes Cup (with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Gaston Gaudio in Stuttgart on July 24), Rafael Nadal improved his world ranking to No. 2. The wins marked his seventh and eighth titles of the season. All of those championships came on clay./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110503_Nadal_FrenchOpen_2005_v.jpgFrench Open (2005)AFP/Getty ImagesChristophe SimonAccomplishing a feat not seen in Paris for more than 20 years, Rafael Nadal won the French Open the first time he played it. On his 19th birthday, Nadal beat Roger Federer in the semis, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, then earned the right to hoist the trophy with a 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5 victory over Mariano Puerta. Winning his first Grand Slam title helped boost Nadal's world ranking to No. 3./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_RomeMasters_2005_h.jpgSpring clay-court dominance (2005)AFP/Getty ImagesBaronciniCruising through the 2005 spring clay-court season, Rafael Nadal won 24 straight singles matches, breaking Andre Agassi's Open era record of consecutive match wins by a male teenager. That streak included titles at the Monte Carlo Masters (where he beat 2004 French Open runner-up Guillermo Coria 6-3, 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 in the final), the Barcelona Open (topping Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the final) and the Rome Masters (defeating Coria once again, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6)). /NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_MiamiMasters_2005_h.jpgMiami Masters (2005)Getty ImagesMatthew StockmanDespite being two points away from a straight-set victory over No. 1 Roger Federer in the championship of the Miami Masters on April 3, 2005, Rafael Nadal couldn't reel in the title. Federer rallied for a 2-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-1 victory. The 18-year-old Nadal was the youngest-ever finalists at the tournament./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110503_Nadal_MexicanOpen_2005_v.jpgBrasil Open / Mexican Open (2005)AFP/Getty ImagesOmar TorresJust a week after picking up his first title of 2005 -- with a 6-0, 6-7 (2), 6-1 victory over Alberto Martin at the Brasil Open -- Rafael Nadal earned his second title of the year. This time around he drubbed Albert Montanes 6-1, 6-0 at the Mexican Open on Feb. 26. In Acapulco, Nadal didn't drop a single set./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_AustralianOpen_2005_h.jpgAustralian Open (2005)AFP/Getty ImagesWilliam WestAlthough Rafael Nadal fell in five sets in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Jan. 24, 2005, it still marked his deepest run in a Grand Slam tournament. Nadal was knocked out by eventual runner-up Lleyton Hewitt, 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_DavisCup_2004_v.jpgDavis Cup (2004)AFP/Getty ImagesChristophe SimonCapping his 2004 season, Rafael Nadal became the youngest player to register a singles victory for a winning nation in a Davis Cup final, contributing to Spain's 3-2 win with a 6-7 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory over Andy Roddick of the United States on Dec. 3./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_2004_v.jpgOrange Prokom Open (2004)AFP/Getty ImagesJavier SorianoWith many other ATP Tour players competing at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Rafael Nadal cruised through the field in Sopot, Poland, winning each match in straight sets en route to his first Tour title. Nadal beat Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-4 on clay in the final on Aug. 15, 2004./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_MiamiMasters_2004_h.jpgMiami Masters (2004)Getty ImagesAl BelloSnapping Roger Federer's 12-match winning streak (and handing the No. 1 seed just his second loss in his past 30 matches), Rafael Nadal won the first match in which the two future rivals faced off. The March 28, 2004 match lasted just 69 minutes, as Nadal picked up a 6-3, 6-3 victory./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_HeinekenTennisOpen_2004_v.jpgHeineken Tennis Open (2004)Getty ImagesMichael BradleyTo reach the final of the Heineken Open on Jan. 18, 2004, Rafael Nadal didn't drop a set in his first four rounds. But that streak came to an end in his final match, where he ultimately was the runner-up, dropping by a 6-4, 2-6, 5-7 score against Dominik Hrbaty in Auckland, New Zealand./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_Wimbledon_2003_v.jpgWimbledon (2003)Getty ImagesAlex LiveseyMaking his first ever appearance in the men's singles draw at a Grand Slam tournament, Rafael Nadal played his way into the third round at Wimbledon. At 17 years old, he was the youngest to make it that far since Boris Becker accomplished the feat in 1984. But Nadal's run at the All England Club ended with a 6-4, 6-4, 2-6 loss against Paradorn Srichaphan, then ranked No. 11 in the world. Nadal went on to compile a 30-16 record on the ATP Tour in 2003 and finish the year in the top 50 in the rankings in addition to earning ATP Newcomer of the Year honors./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Radael Nadal career highlights/Images/110429_Nadal_2003_v.jpgMallorca Open (2002)Getty ImagesMike HewittAt the age of 15 on April 29, 2002, Rafael Nadal picked up his first career ATP Tour victory. Playing at the Mallorca Open, Nadal beat Ramon Delgado, then ranked No. 81 in the world, by a 6-4, 6-4 score. Nadal lost in the next round in straight sets to Olivier Rochus.Tennis newsMore sports coverageembss2false551

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Career highlights

Take a look back at key moments in Rafael Nadal's tennis career.

/NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_FrenchOpen_2010_640x480.jpg164048000#000000http://msnbcmedia.msn.comJulian FinneyGetty Images EuropeGetty Images2010 Getty ImagesPARIS - JUNE 06: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates with the trophy after winning the men's singles final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Robin Soderling of Sweden on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 6, 2010 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rafael Nadal2010 French Open - Day FifteenGrand Slam TennisSGSE60656197ParisFrance634113792000000000198476238Pfalsefalse

/NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Rafael Nadal career highlights/Images/110517_Nadal_FrenchOpen_2010_1000x563.jpg1100056300#000000http://msnbcmedia.msn.comJulian FinneyGetty Images EuropeGetty Images2010 Getty ImagesPARIS - JUNE 06: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates with the trophy after winning the men's singles final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Robin Soderling of Sweden on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 6, 2010 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rafael Nadal2010 French Open - Day FifteenGrand Slam TennisSGSE60656197ParisFrance634113792000000000198476238Pfalsefalse

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Points Won Returning Second Serve
This is the first category that finds Nadal on top, and it's a testament to his ability to take advantage of his opportunities. One of the big differences between this and the former return category is that when a big server (or even a decent one) is on his game, there's very little anyone, including Fabio Fognini, can do about it.

But generally, a receiver gets a look at second serves, and therefore his winning percentage on this balls is a good indication of the quality of his return. For if you're going to win a high percentage of your opponent's second-serve points, you can't just return-you have to return well to start the point on even footing or with an advantage.

Novak Djokovic is No. 2 in this category, and Roger Federer is sitting tight at No. ... 18. That's no typo, and what makes it worse is that the swing here pretty big. Nadal's success rate is 58 percent, Federer's is 51. Federer was No. 9 and very close percentage points-wise in the first-serve return stats, which makes this relatively low success rate in second-serve return an even more significant statistic.

Now consider this: Fognini is pretty much in the same boat as Federer. Fognini is among the top returners of first serves, bur he's way down at No. 27 on this second-serve return list. This suggests two things - that Fognini (and/or Federer) have amazing reaction returns but get themselves sideways when they're looking at make-able second-serve returns. The failure to return second serves, especially important ones, is usually a sign of nerves. Draw your own conclusions.

Biggest Surprise: Tomas Bredych has the fifth-best number in this category, even though he's just No. 16 in first-serve return percentage. Reaction time, anyone?

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Celebrity tennis fans

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Celebrity tennis fans

Take a look at some well-known fans in the world of tennis.

/NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Celebrity tennis fans/Images/11/110906_BlakeLively_USOpen_2011_640x480.jpg164048000#000000http://msnbcmedia.msn.comNick LahamGetty Images North AmericaGetty Images2011 Getty ImagesNEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Actress Blake Lively watches as Serena Williams of the United States plays against Ana Ivanovic of Serbia during Day Eight of the 2011 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)2011 US Open - Day 8TennisEACE GSE TEN122330794JH078_2011_US_OpenNew YorkNYUnited States6345077760000000001122330794Pfalsefalse

/NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Celebrity tennis fans/Images/11/110906_BlakeLively_USOpen_2011_1000x563.jpg1100056300#000000http://msnbcmedia.msn.comNick LahamGetty Images North AmericaGetty Images2011 Getty ImagesNEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Actress Blake Lively watches as Serena Williams of the United States plays against Ana Ivanovic of Serbia during Day Eight of the 2011 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)2011 US Open - Day 8TennisEACE GSE TEN122330794JH078_2011_US_OpenNew YorkNYUnited States6345077760000000001122330794Pfalsefalse

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Break Points Converted
It's only fitting that the leader in this category is one of those go-for-broke kind of guys. Xavier Malisse leads the tour with a 50 percent break-point conversion rate. I'm surprised that he's got a better record than Djokovic, but one thing about statistics is that they don't lie. Djokovic is in at 48 percent.

Nadal follows Djokovic closely, but it's telling that Robin Soderling sits firmly in fourth place, with a 46 percent conversion rate. Incidentally, four players from the USA are bunched in the bottom 10: Andy Roddick (No. 54/37 percent), Mardy Fish (59/34 percent), Sam Querrey (64.31 percent) and John Isner (65.30 percent). The only man ranked lower than Isner is Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

One thing I like about this statistic is that it's a real area of strength - or vulnerability. There's a huge difference between the worst percentage (Gimeno-Traver) and best (Malisse, 30-50 percent).

Biggest Surprise: Andy Murray, No. 4 in the world, No. 1 in first-serve return percentage, is down at No. 7 in break point conversion. Again, the mental game seems to come into play.

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Roger Federer's career highlights

/NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Roger Federer career highlights/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/110606_rogerfederer_h.jpgFrench Open (2011)Getty ImagesAlex LiveseyCruising through the first five rounds, Federer didn't drop a set and found himself facing Novak Djokovic and his 43-match win streak in the semifinals. Although he dropped a set, Federer advanced to the final where he once again found rival Rafael Nadal waiting for him. After being up 5-2 set point in the first, Federer dropped the set and ultimately the match, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 6-1. The loss moved Federer's career record against Nadal to 8-17, including a 2-6 deficit in Grand Slam finals and a 0-5 hole at Roland Garros./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Roger Federer career highlights/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/110503_QatarOpen_2011_v.jpgQatar Open (2011)AFP/Getty ImagesMarwan NaamaniRoger Federer jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the championship match of the Qatar Open and never looked back, picking up his first title in his first tournament of the year with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Nikolay Davydenko. Federer, who picked up his 67th career title, did not drop a set in the tournament./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Roger Federer career highlights/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/101129_ATPWorldTourFinals2_2010_v.jpgATP World Tour Finals (2010)AFP/Getty ImagesGlyn KirkWinning 92 percent of the points on his first serve and losing just 13 points on serve the entire match, Roger Federer captured his fifth season-ending title with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Rafael Nadal in London on Nov. 28, 2010. Federer won all three of his round-robin matches at the tournament before knocking out Novak Djokovic in the semis to set up the championship showdown against his biggest rival. With the win, Federer's head-to-head record against Nadal improved to 8-14./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Roger Federer career highlights/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/101129_SwissIndoors4_2010_h.jpgSwiss Indoors (2010)Getty ImagesJulian FinneyAfter winning his fourth title at the tournament where he used to be a ball boy, Roger Federer brought pizza to celebrate with the Swiss Indoors ball kids. Federer had lost the title to Novak Djokovic in 2009, but he exacted revenge by beating the Serb 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in the 2010 final. The victory was his 65th career title, moving him to fourth on the all-time list, one ahead of Pete Sampras./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Roger Federer career highlights/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/101129_StockholmOpen2_2010_v.jpgStockholm Open (2010)AFP/Getty ImagesMaja SuslinRallying from a break down in the first set, Roger Federer claimed a straight-set 6-4, 6-3 victory over Florian Mayer in the final of the Stockholm Open on Oct. 24, 2010. It was Federer's third title of the season and 64th of his career. The win also was his 50th of the season, making him just the fifth man to win at least 50 matches in at least nine straight years in the Open era./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Roger Federer career highlights/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/101129_WesternSouthernFinancialGroupMasters3_2010_h.jpgCincinnati Masters (2010)Getty ImagesKevin C. CoxSuccessfully defending his Cincinnati Masters title, Roger Federer topped Mardy Fish in a hard-fought match by a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (1), 6-4 score. It was his fourth title overall at the tournament. Federer had rolled through the Cincinnati tournament up to that point, spending a total of just 3 hours and 17 minutes in matches leading up to the Aug. 22, 2010 final./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/100131_RogerFederer_AustralianOpen_2010_AP_h.jpgAustralian Open (2010)APAndy WongWinning a Grand Slam final in straight sets for the eighth time in his career, No. 1 Roger Federer blasted past No. 5 Andy Murray, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11). The victory gave Federer his fourth Australian Open title and 16th Grand Slam singles title overall. <br/> <br/> <br/> His celebratory speech was much different from his appearance at the microphone the previous year, where he burst into tears after losing against Rafael Nadal./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090823_CincinnatiMasters_2009_h.jpgCincinnati Masters (2009)Getty ImagesNick LahamEarning his first win as a father, Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic 6-1, 7-5 in the final of the Cincinnati Masters. Federer took charge from the beginning, breaking Djokovic in the match's second game and ultimately relegating the Serb to his fourth runner-up at the tournament./NBCSports/Components/Photo-Sports/2009/July/090705_RogerFederer_2009_v.jpgWimbledon (2009)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillRoger Federer broke Andy Roddick's serve just once in the Wimbledon men's championship, but it came at a critical time in the match's final game. Outlasting Roddick by a 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14 score, Federer earned his sixth Wimbledon title and record 15th Grand Slam championship. In front of previous record holder Pete Sampras, Federer served a career-high 50 aces to secure the win./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090607_RogerFederer_FrenchOpen_2009_v.jpgFrench Open (2009)AFP/Getty ImagesBertrand GuayOn his fourth try at Roland Garros, Roger Federer became the sixth man to win all four Grand Slam championships. He earned a 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 victory over Robin Soderling (the man who had knocked out No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the fourth round) to clinch his 14th career Grand Slam title and equal Pete Sampras' record of all-time major victories. <br/> <br/> <br/> While it was one of Federer's easiest matches of the tournament (he'd survived two five-setters in earlier rounds), the final wasn't without drama. A light rain fell throughout most of the match, and a spectator ran onto the court in the second set and grabbed Federer before being tackled by security./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_MadridOpen_2009_h.jpgMadrid Open (2009)Getty ImagesJasper JuinenGetting a much-needed boost of confidence prior to the 2009 French Open, Roger Federer won the Madrid Open on May 17, 2009. Not only did he defeat Robin Soderling, James Blake, Andy Roddick and Juan Martin Del Potro en route to the finals, but he then topped Rafael Nadal in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, to take the title. The win ended Nadal's 33-match win streak on clay./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_AustralianOpen_2009_h.jpgAustralian Open (2009)AFP/Getty ImagesPaul CrockAfter being defeated by Rafael Nadal in the finals of the 2009 Australian Open by a 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 score, a devastated Roger Federer broke down during the trophy presentation and could not get through his runner-up speech./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_ParisIndoorsMasters_2008_h.jpgParis Indoor Masters (2008)AFP/Getty ImagesFranck FifeAfter injuring his back, Roger Federer withdrew from his quarterfinal match against James Blake in Paris. By leaving the tournament, it ensured he would not win a Masters Series title for the first time since 2003. It also was just the first time in Federer's career of 763 matches that he had withdrawn from a tournament./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_SwissIndoors_2008_h.jpgSwiss Indoors (2008)Getty ImagesIan WaltonWith a 6-3, 6-4 victory over David Nalbandian in the finals, Roger Federer clinched the Swiss Indoors title for the third straight year, the first player to accomplish that feat. It was the 57th title of his career./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_USOpen_2008_h.jpgU.S. Open (2008)AFP/Getty ImagesTimothy A. ClarySaving an otherwise extremely disappointing tennis season, Roger Federer won his fifth straight title at the U.S. Open. Seeded second, Federer stormed to the finals dropping just three sets (two of which came in a gutsy five-set fourth-round victory over Igor Andreev). Facing Andy Murray in the championship match, Federer broke the Scot seven times en route to a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 victory. With the win, Federer moved just one major title away from equalling Pete Sampras' Grand Slam singles title record of 14./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Olympics_2008_h.jpgOlympic Games (2008)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillWhile he fell in the quarterfinals of the singles draw in Beijing, Roger Federer (left) teamed up with Stanislas Wawrinka to earn a gold medal in doubles for Switzerland. The two upset the No. 1-ranked duo of Bob and Mike Bryan in the semifinals before beating Sweden's Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson by a 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3 score in the final. <br/> <br/> <br/> Federer's singles loss was costly. After the Games he lost the No. 1 ranking he had held for a record 237 straight weeks to Rafael Nadal./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Wimbledon_2008_h.jpgWimbledon (2008)Getty ImagesJulian FinneyRoger Federer was on the losing end in one of the greatest tennis matches ever played. After two rain delays and four hours and 48 minutes of action (making it the longest men's final in Wimbledon history), Rafael Nadal prevented Federer from winning his sixth straight Wimbledon title and earned a 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7 victory. The loss snapped Federer's 65-match win streak on his favorite surface of grass. The Swiss player hadn't dropped a set at the tournament that year prior to the final./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_GerryWeber_2008_h.jpgGerry Weber Open (2008)Bongarts/Getty ImagesThomas StarkeTying Pete Sampras' Open era record of 10 titles on grass, Roger Federer captured the Gerry Weber Open title in 2008. It marked the fifth time he had won at the tournament. Not only did Federer never drop a set throughout his time in Germany, but he also never dropped a service game./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_FrenchOpen_2008_v.jpgFrench Open (2008)AFP/Getty ImagesJacques DemarthonIn one of the most lopsided defeats of his career, Roger Federer was trounced in the French Open finals by Rafael Nadal. Nadal, who converted eight of 17 break point chances in the match, needed just 108 minutes to top Federer by a 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 margin. It marked the third straight year Federer had fallen to Nadal in the finals and the fourth straight year he had been beaten by the Spaniard in the tournament./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_EstorilOpen_2008_h.jpgEstoril Open (2008)APSteven GovernoAlthough Roger Federer faced some challenges in his opening clay court event in 2008, he ultimately won the Estoril Open title when finals opponent Nikolay Davydenko retired due to a leg injury. Federer was leading 7-6 (5), 1-2 at the time./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_PacificLifeOpen_2008_h.jpgPacific Life Open (2008)Getty ImagesHarry HowA stunning 6-3, 6-2 loss against Mardy Fish in the semifinals of the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells on March 22, 2008 snapped Roger Federer's 41-match win streak against American tennis players. He had no success starting a new streak either, as he lost to Andy Roddick in three sets in the quarterfinals in his next tournament, the Sony Ericsson Open./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Laureus_2008_v.jpgLaureus World Sports Awards (2008)AFP/Getty ImagesNatalia KolesnikovaWhen he received the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award in 2008 (for his achievements the previous year), Roger Federer became the first athlete in history to win four awards at the ceremony. He also earned the award in 2005, 2006 and 2007./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_AustralianOpen_2008_v.jpgAustralian Open (2008)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillLooking sluggish against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the Australian Open, Roger Federer failed to defend his title and fell to the Serbian player, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (5). The loss snapped his streak of consecutive Slam finals made at 10, which still stands as the men's record. It also was the first time since 2004 that he had lost a Grand Slam match in straight sets. <br/> <br/> <br/> In addition to the food poisoning that befell him just before the start of the Australian Open, Federer later revealed that he had been diagnosed with mononucleosis./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_SamprasFederer_2007_h.jpgSampras vs. Federer (2007)APKin CheungIn a three-match exhibition series pitting Pete Sampras against Roger Federer, tennis fans had a chance to see the two players with strong claims to the title of tennis' best-ever compete against each other. <br/> <br/> <br/> Federer beat Sampras 6-4, 6-3 in the first match, then won a tougher second match by a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) score. In the third match, however, the American prevailed, 7-6 (8), 6-4./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_MastersCup_2007_v.jpgTennis Masters Cup (2007)APNg Han GuanDespite losing his first match in the round robin portion of the 2007 Tennis Masters Cup to Fernando Gonzalez, Roger Federer still advanced to the next round. After defeating rival Rafael Nadal by a relatively easy score of 6-4, 6-1 in the semis, he beat David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in the finals. <br/> <br/> <br/> Winning for the second straight year, Federer joined Ivan Lendl as the only players to have won consecutive Masters Cup titles./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_SwissIndoors_2007_h.jpgSwiss Indoors (2007)AFP/Getty ImagesFabrice CoffriniEarning his seventh title of 2007, Roger Federer won the Swiss Indoors title. He beat Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-4 in the finals. <br/> <br/> <br/> The win also helped Federer clinch the year-ending No. 1 ranking for the fourth straight year, joining Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl as the only other men's players to end four or more years in the top spot./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_USOpen_2007_h.jpgU.S. Open (2007)AFP/Getty ImagesStan HondaRoger Federer moved into a tie for second place on the all-time Grand Slam singles titles list with a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over Novak Djokovic in the 2007 finals of the U.S. Open. Federer dropped just two sets the entire tournament. <br/> <br/> <br/> It was a big payday for Federer, who earned $1.4 million for winning the singles title and an additional $1 million for finishing as the champion of the U.S. Open Series points race./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_WesternSouthernFinancialGroupMasters_2007_h.jpgCincinnati Masters (2007)Getty ImagesRonald MartinezWinning the 50th ATP Tour title of his career, Roger Federer hoisted the trophy at the 2007 Cincinnati Masters on Aug. 19. His closest match in the tournament was a 6-3, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (1) semifinal victory over Lleyton Hewitt, as Federer then went on to beat James Blake 6-1, 6-4 in the final./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Wimbledon_2007_h.jpgWimbledon (2007)AFP/Getty ImagesAlex LiveseyAdding another chapter to their growing rivalry, Roger Federer edged out Rafael Nadal in five sets -- 7-6 (7), 4-6, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-2 -- at the All England Club on July 8, 2007. Four times Nadal came within a point of going up a break in the final set, but Federer was able to withstand his charge each time. <br/> <br/> <br/> The win was Federer's fifth straight at Wimbledon, putting him in the exclusive company of Bjorn Borg as the only two players with that kind of success at the tournament./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_FrenchOpen_2007_h.jpgFrench Open (2007)Getty ImagesClive RoseProving once again that while Roger Federer may have been the No. 1 player in the world he was not No. 1 on clay, Rafael Nadal earned a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over the Swiss player in 2007. Federer did, however, accomplish something none of Nadal's previous opponents that year had: he took a set from the Spaniard. Federer finished the match with 59 unforced errors to just 27 from Nadal and converted on just one of 17 break point chances./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Hamburg_2007_h.jpgHamburg Masters (2007)Bongarts/Getty ImagesStuart FranklinSnapping Rafael Nadal's record 81-match winning streak on clay, Roger Federer finally bettered his rival on the surface by winning the Hamburg Masters. After losing the first set, he rebounded by cutting down his unforced errors and ultimately took the match 2-6, 6-2, 6-0. He won 76 percent of his first-serve points./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_halfclayhalfgrass_2007_v.jpgBattle of the Surfaces (2007)APManu FernandezWith one known as the King of Clay and one the undisputed best on grass, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer took to a $1.63 million dollar hybrid court for an exhibition battle on May 2, 2007. Half-grass and half-clay, playing on the court required the players to change shoes when they switched sides. Nadal prevailed 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (10). He won 12 more points on clay and seven fewer on grass than Roger Federer, who won an equal number of points on both surfaces./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_stamp_2007_h.jpgAFP/Getty ImagesFabrice CoffriniTo honor their tennis star, Switzerland launched a postage stamp bearing his portrait on April 10, 2007. The honor was timed to commemorate Federer's record-breaking streak at the top of the ATP world rankings for 161 consecutive weeks. Living persons are not normally presented with the distinction./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_PacificLifeOpen_2007_h.jpgPacific Life Open (2007)Getty ImagesJeff GrossRoger Federer barely put up a fight in his opening match of the Pacific Life Open in 2007, falling to Guillermo Canas 7-5, 6-2. Federer was broken four times in the match. The loss snapped his winning streak of 41 straight matches and also prevented him from defending the title he had won each of the previous three years./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Dubai_2007_v.jpgDubai Open (2007)AFP/Getty ImagesKarim SahibWinning the Dubai Open for the fourth time in five years, Roger Federer topped Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-3 in the finals in 2007. Youzhny had broken Federer in the match's very first game, but Federer stormed back. It was Federer's 41st straight win, which tied Bjorn Borg for the fourth-longest streak in the Open era./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_AustralianOpen_2007_v.jpgAustralian Open (2007)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillAdvancing to the finals of the 2007 Australian Open without dropping a single set, Roger Federer continued that success in the championship match. He defeated Fernando Gonzalez by a 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-4 score to win his 10th Grand Slam singles title. Federer's victory made him the first men's tennis player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win a major tournament without giving up a set./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_MastersCup_2006_h.jpgTennis Masters Cup (2006)AFP/Getty ImagesFrederic J. BrownTaking the adage of beating the best to be the best to heart, Roger Federer won the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai with notable wins over defending champion David Nalbandian and rising star Rafael Nadal. Federer topped James Blake 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 in the finals, claiming his third title in four years at the season-ending tournament. <br/> <br/> <br/> Federer finished the year with 12 titles and only five defeats (four of which came against Nadal)./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_SwissIndoors_2006_v.jpgSwiss Indoors (2006)AFP/Getty ImagesFrederick FlorinWinning his home tournament for the first time, Roger Federer captured the Swiss Indoors title in 2006 with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (3) victory over Fernando Gonzalez in the finals. Growing up, Federer worked as a ball boy for the tournament. <br/> <br/> <br/> The title was Federer's 11th of the season, matching his totals in both 2004 and 2005./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_MadridMasters_2006_h.jpgMadrid Masters (2006)AFP/Getty ImagesJavier SorianoOvercoming a rolled right ankle, Roger Federer still beat Fernando Gonzalez in straight sets in the Madrid Masters final, 7-5, 6-1, 6-0. Federer's performance was particularly impressive considering he lost just nine points on his first serve the entire match. <br/> <br/> <br/> Federer became the first player in history to win four ATP Masters Series titles in back-to-back seasons./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_JapanOpen_2006_h.jpgJapan Open (2006)AFP/Getty ImagesAfpIn a match that lasted just 67 minutes, Roger Federer beat Tim Henman 6-3, 6-3 to win the Japan Open in 2006. <br/> <br/> <br/> Federer was a huge attraction at the tournament, with organizers putting his practice on center court and even supplying ball boys./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_USOpen_2006_h.jpgU.S. Open (2006)Getty ImagesAl BelloReaching his fourth Grand Slam final of the year, Roger Federer won his third major title of the year and third straight U.S. Open championship. He earned a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over Andy Roddick, who didn't have enough in his arsenal to combat Federer. The Swiss player finished with 69 winners and just 19 unforced errors in the match./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_WesternSouthernFinancialGroupMasters_2006_h.jpgCincinnati Masters (2006)Getty ImagesRobert LabergeAndy Murray upset Roger Federer in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters on Aug. 16, 2006. Not only was it Federer's only straight-sets loss of the year, but it also was his first loss before a final in 14 months. The match was never close, as Murray broke Federer seven times in a 7-5, 6-4 win./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_TorontoMastersSeriesRogersCup_2006_h.jpgRogers Cup (2006)Getty ImagesMatthew StockmanAfter dropping the first set of the Rogers Cup final to Richard Gasquet, Roger Federer came back to win the title 2-6, 6-3, 6-2./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Wimbledon_2006_v.jpgWimbledon (2006)AFP/Getty ImagesCarl De SouzaAfter cruising through the 2006 Wimbledon field without dropping a single set, Roger Federer met Rafael Nadal in the finals. Nadal managed to take the third set from Federer in a tiebreak, but he couldn't keep the Swiss player from earning his fourth straight Wimbledon championship, 6-0, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-3./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_GerryWeber_2006_v.jpgGerry Weber Open (2006)Getty ImagesMatthew StockmanEach of the four sets Roger Federer lost en route to winning the Gerry Weber Open in 2006 were in tiebreaks. Even while up against stiff competition, however, Federer didn't fold. He ultimately beat Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-7 (4), 6-2 in the finals on June 18 to take home the title./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_FrenchOpen_2006_h.jpgFrench Open (2006)AFP/Getty ImagesBertrand GuayDespite advancing to the championship match for the first time ever at Roland Garros, Roger Federer couldn't claim the only Grand Slam title he lacked. Defending champion Rafael Nadal earned a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory, as Federer fell with 51 unforced errors. The loss prevented Federer from becoming the first player ever to go a perfect 8-0 in his first eight Grand Slam finals./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Nasdaq100_2006_v.jpgATP Masters Series Miami (2006)Getty ImagesDoug BencPrevailing in three straight sets decided by tiebreaks, Roger Federer edged out Ivan Ljubicic to earn his second straight Miami ATP Masters Series title. The final score was 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6). As Federer also had won the Indian Wells title earlier that year, he became the first person to sweep both events in two consecutive years./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_PacificLifeOpen_2006_v.jpgPacific Life Open (2006)Getty ImagesRobert LabergeBlasting 32 winners, Roger Federer beat James Blake 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 to win the title at Indian Wells for the third straight year. Federer had trailed 1-4 in the first set before battling back./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_AustralianOpen_2006_h.jpgAustralian Open (2006)AFP/Getty ImagesMark RalstonAfter surviving a tough five-setter in the fourth round against Tommy Haas, Roger Federer won four-setters in the semis (over Nicolas Kiefer) and finals (against Marcos Baghdatis) to take home the Australian Open title in 2006. In the championship match, Federer lost the first set before rallying for the 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 victory./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Qatar_2006_h.jpgQatar Open (2006)APKamran JebreiliAfter winning the Qatar Open in 2007 without dropping a single set, Roger Federer was presented with a golden sword from Sheik Mohamad bin Faleh Al-Thani, the President of Qatar Tennis Federation. In the finals, he topped France's Gael Monfils 6-3, 7-6 (5)./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_ThailandOpen_2005_v.jpgThailand Open (2005)Getty ImagesRyan PierseCapping his run in Bangkok in 2005 with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Andy Murray, Roger Federer claimed the title at the Thailand Open. He didn't lose a set en route to the victory./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_USOpen_2005_v.jpgU.S. Open (2005)AFP/Getty ImagesTimothy A. ClaryFacing off against two-time U.S. Open champion Andre Agassi in the 2005 finals, Roger Federer earned his second title at the tournament. The final score was 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-1. Federer's win made him the first player in the Open era to win both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open back-to-back in consecutive years./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_WesternSouthernFinancialGroupMasters_2005_h.jpgCincinnati Masters (2005)Getty ImagesMatthew StockmanBy defeating Andy Roddick 6-3, 7-5 in the Cincinnati Masters final, Roger Federer earned his fourth Masters Series title of the year. Federer became the first player in history to win that many Masters titles in a single season. Roddick was the third American Federer had to top at the tournament, as he also beat James Blake in the first round and Robby Ginepri in the semis. /NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Wimbledon_2005_h.jpgWimbledon (2005)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillRoger Federer lost just one set throughout his 2005 Wimbledon campaign, a tiebreak blip against Nicolas Kiefer in the third round. The Swiss player ultimately topped Andy Roddick for the second straight year in the tournament final, winning by a 6-2, 7-6 (2), 6-4 score. Federer took the first set in just 22 minutes and claimed the match in 1 hour and 41 minutes. He hit 49 winners to just 12 unforced errors./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_GerryWeber_2005_v.jpgGerry Weber Open (2005)Bongarts/Getty ImagesChristof KoepselDespite nearly falling in the first round to Robin Soderling, Roger Federer held on to win the Gerry Weber Open title in 2005. Both his first and last matches at the tournament that year took three sets. Federer beat Soderling 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-4, then went on to top Marat Safin by a 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-4 score in the title match./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_FrenchOpen_2005_h.jpgFrench Open (2005)Getty ImagesMichael SteeleForeshadowing what would become a familiar outcome for Roger Federer at the French Open, he fell to Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6 in the semifinals in 2005. The final point of their match was an 18-shot rally befitting the high level of play seen in the match. Nadal snapped Federer's streak of consecutive sets won on clay at 28./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Nasdaq100_2005_h.jpgATP Masters Series Miami (2005)APSteve MitchellAvenging the straight-set loss he suffered to Rafael Nadal in Miami the previous year, Roger Federer prevailed in five sets in the finals in 2005. He had to come back from a two-set deficit to claim the title and was once even two points from defeat before he ultimately won 2-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-1 in just under four hours. Federer won just seven more points than Nadal: 157 to 150./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_PacificLifeOpen_2005_h.jpgPacific Life Open (2005)Getty ImagesNick LahamIncluding a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 finals victory over Lleyton Hewitt, Roger Federer cruised through the field at Indian Wells without dropping a single set. /NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Dubai_2005_h.jpgDubai Open (2005)Getty ImagesMike HewittAfter dominating the opening set in his Dubai Open final against Ivan Ljubicic, the Croatian player came back to tighten the match. He couldn't pull off the upset of the No. 1 player, however, as Federer claimed a 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-3 victory. It marked Federer's third straight title at the tournament./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Rotterdam_2005_v.jpgABN AMRO (2005)APFred ErnstTopping Ivan Ljubicic in a tournament final for the second time that year, Roger Federer won the title in Rotterdam on Feb. 20, 2005. In a match that lasted 164 minutes, Federer broke Ljubicic just once but claimed a 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (5) victory./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Qatar_2005_v.jpgQatar Open (2005)AFP/Getty ImagesKarim JaafarWhile cruising through the field to win the Qatar Open title in 2004, Roger Federer allowed his opponents to win four games in a set just twice. He limited them to one game in a set four times, two games once and three games three times. In the finals, Federer beat Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 6-1./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_MastersCup_2004_v.jpgTennis Masters Cup (2004)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillThe most entertaining match of Roger Federer's 2004 Tennis Masters Cup run was in the semifinals, when he outlasted Marat Safin 20-18 in a second-set tiebreak. Federer then went on to beat Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-2 in the finals to win the Cup for the second straight year./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_ThailandOpen_2004_h.jpgThailand Open (2004)AFP/Getty ImagesPornchai KittiwongsakulWith Andy Roddick plagued by an injured elbow and exhausted from a long semifinal match against Marat Safin, Roger Federer had no trouble dispatching him 6-4, 6-0 to win the Thailand Open title in 2004. The win moved Federer into the company of John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg as the only players to win 12 straight ATP Tour finals./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_USOpen_2004_v.jpgU.S. Open (2004)Getty ImagesEzra ShawRanked No. 1 at the 2004 U.S. Open, Roger Federer proved he deserved that high ranking by winning his first championship at the tournament. Federer's most difficult challenge came in the quarterfinals against Andre Agassi, but he beat the American 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. Federer then topped Henman in straight sets in the semis before crusing to a 6-0, 7-6 (3), 6-0 victory against Lleyton Hewitt in the championship match. It was the first time since 2003 that a player had been shut out in the opening set of the men's finals at the U.S. Open./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_TennisMastersCanada_2004_h.jpgTennis Masters Canada (2004)Getty ImagesElsaDropping just one set en route to the finals in Toronto, Roger Federer beat former No. 1 Andy Roddick 7-5, 6-3 to take home the title on Aug. 1, 2004./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_SuisseOpen_2004_v.jpgSuisse Open (2004)APYoshiko KusanoJust one week after winning Wimbledon, Roger Federer earned a red clay title at the Suisse Open in Gstaad. He topped Igor Andreev 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 for his seventh title that season. Despite admitting that he was tiring, Federer used the backing of the home fans to take home the trophy./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Wimbledon_2004_h.jpgWimbledon (2004)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillFrustrated after losing against Roger Federer in the 2004 Wimbledon finals, Andy Roddick groused, "I threw the kitchen sink at him, but he went to the bathroom and got a tub ... I'm going to have to start winning some of them to call it a rivalry." Federer earned a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory to successfully defend his Wimbledon title. The first set of the finals marked just the second time that tournament that Federer lost a set./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_GerryWeber_2004_h.jpgGerry Weber Open (2004)Bongarts/Getty ImagesMoritz WindeRoger Federer's 6-0, 6-3 victory over Mardy Fish in the finals of the 2004 Gerry Weber Open ranked among his easiest matches at the tournament, although all of them were decided in straight sets./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Hamburg_2004_h.jpgHamburg Masters (2004)Getty ImagesStuart FranklinSnapping Guillermo Coria's 31-match winning streak, Roger Federer won the Hamburg Masters for the second time in three years. It was Coria's first loss on clay in nearly a year. Federer lost the first set before rallying for a four-set win: 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_PacificLifeOpen_2004_v.jpgPacific Life Open (2004)Getty ImagesMatthew StockmanBeating Tim Henman for just the second time in eight meetings, Roger Federer topped the Brit 6-3, 6-3 to capture the Pacific Life Open title in 2004. Federer's only loss in his previous 28 matches had come against Henman. The Swiss player made just five unforced errors in the win./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Dubai_2004_v.jpgDubai Open (2004)AFP/Getty ImagesRabih MoghrabiRallying after dropping the first set to Feliciano Lopez in Dubai, the first set he had lost all tournament, Roger Federer became the first player ever to successfully defend a title at the event. Federer beat the Spaniard 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. /NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_AustralianOpen_2004_h.jpgAustralian Open (2004)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillWinning his first Australian Open crown, Roger Federer beat Marat Safin in straight sets in the finals, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-2. Federer broke the Russian five times in the match. The victory helped Roger Federer overtake Andy Roddick as the top-ranked men's player in the world./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_TennisMastersCup_2003_h.jpgTennis Masters Cup (2003)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillWith victories over three reigning Grand Slam champions -- Andre Agassi (Australian Open), Andy Roddick (U.S. Open) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (French Open) -- Roger Federer claimed the Tennis Masters Cup victory to end the 2003 tennis season. Federer was dominant in the tournament, winning 11 of the 12 sets he played, including a 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 victory over Agassi in the final. Federer led the Tour in titles that season with seven./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Vienna_2003_h.jpgCA Trophy (2003)APHans PunzRoger Federer won the CA Trophy for the second straight year, capping his tournament run with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 defeat of Carlos Moya. It was the first time in the Swiss player's career that he had successfully defended an ATP Tour title./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Wimbledon_2003_v.jpgWimbledon (2003)AFP/Getty ImagesThomas CoexDropping to his knees in an exuberant display of emotion, 21-year-old Roger Federer marveled at his first Grand Slam victory. He beat Mark Philippoussiss by a 7-6 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (3) score in the finals at the All England Club after topping Andy Roddick in straight sets in the semis. Preserving his undefeated record on grass that season, Federer dropped just one set the entire tournament./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_GerryWeber_2003_h.jpgGerry Weber Open (2003)AFP/Getty ImagesKai-uwe KnothThe finals of the 2003 Gerry Weber Open took just 69 minutes to complete, as Roger Federer destroyed Nicolas Kiefer by a 6-1, 6-3 score. It was a much-needed win for the Swiss player, who had been soundly criticized after falling in the first round at the French Open./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_BMWOpen_2003_h.jpgBMW Open (2003)Getty ImagesStuart FranklinRoger Federer won a trophy and a BMW Z4 for winning the BMW Open on May 4, 2003 in Munich. He beat Jarkko Nieminen 6-1, 6-4 in the finals after giving up just 22 games (and winning 48) in the first four rounds./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Nasdaq100_2003_h.jpgATP Masters Series Miami (2003)Getty ImagesAndy LyonsAlthough he fell in the quarterfinals of the 2003 ATP Masters Series Miami to Albert Costa, Roger Federer still enjoyed himself at the tournament, taking some time to swim with the dolphins./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Dubai_2003_v.jpgDubai Open (2003) APKamran JebreiliTaking the title on the hard courts in Dubai, Roger Federer didn't drop a set in the tournament. His final victory came courtesy of a 6-1, 7-6 (2) score against Jiri Novak. It was Federer's 13th win in 14 matches and second title in three events./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Vienna_2002_v.jpgCA Trophy (2002)Associated PressMartin GnedtJust around a month after his former coach Peter Carter was killed in a car accident, Roger Federer won the CA Trophy in Vienna. Remembering Carter in his victory speech on Oct. 13, Federer broke down. He had beaten Jiri Novak 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 for the title./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Wimbledon_2002_v.jpgWimbledon (2002)AFP/Getty ImagesGerry PennyOne year after making the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, Roger Federer was bounced in the first round in 2002 by qualifier Mario Ancic, the second-youngest player in the draw. The final score was 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Hamburg_2002_v.jpgHamburg Masters (2002)Getty ImagesMichael SteeleJust 20 years old, Roger Federer earned his second victory of the 2002 season by topping Marat Safin 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 in the Hamburg Masters championship game. Federer lost just one set the entire tournament. The victory marked the Swiss player's first Masters Series shield./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Nasdaq100_2002_v.jpgMasters Series Miami (2002)APAlan DiazRoger Federer couldn't win the first Masters Series final he reached, falling to Andre Agassi on March 31 by a 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 score. The win was the 700th singles victory of Agassi's career./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_SydneyInternational_2002_v.jpgSydney International (2002)APRick RycroftRoger Federer's first tournament of the 2002 season resulted in a title victory. He dropped just one set -- a tiebreak to Marcelo Rios in the quarterfinals -- en route to the Sydney International win. Federer beat Andy Roddick 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the semis and Juan Ignacio Chela 6-3, 6-3 in the finals./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Wimbledon_2001_h.jpgWimbledon (2001)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillIn a match sometimes seen as a passing of the torch at Wimbledon, Roger Federer beat Pete Sampras 7-6 (7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 in the fourth round in 2001. Sampras was aiming for his fifth straight title at the All England Club, but he could not overcome the Swiss teenager. It was Sampras' first loss at the tournament since 1996. Federer lost in the next round in four sets to Tim Henman./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_FrenchOpen_2001_h.jpgFrench Open (2001)Bongarts/Getty ImagesHenri SzwarcRoger Federer reached the quarterfinals of the French Open in 2001 before falling in straight sets to Alex Corretja./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_DavisCup_2001_v.jpgDavis Cup (2001)ASSOCIATED PRESSMichele LiminaWhen Switzerland beat the United States 3-2 in the opening round of the 2001 Davis Cup, Roger Federer had a hand in each of the three wins for his country. In singles action he beat Todd Martin 6-4, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-1 and Jan-Michael Gambill 7-5, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_MilanIndoors_2001_v.jpgMilan Indoors (2001)Associated PressLuca BrunoWith a 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-4 victory over Julien Boutter on Feb. 4, Roger Federer earned his first career ATP Tour victory. Federer had beaten Goran Ivanisevic in straight sets in the quarterfinals and Yevgeny Kafelnikov in three sets in the semis on his way to the finals of the Milan Indoors event./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_HopmanCup_2001_v.jpgHopman Cup (2001)Getty ImagesSean GarnsworthyTeaming with fellow Swiss player Martina Hingis, Roger Federer won the Hopman Cup in 2001. Hingis beat Monica Seles in the women's singles rubber, while Federer topped Jan-Michael Gambill 6-4, 6-3 on the men's side. In the meaningless mixed doubles match, the U.S. team won./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_SwissIndoors_2000_v.jpgSwiss Indoors (2000)Associated PressMarkus StuecklinRoger Federer reached the final of the Swiss Indoors event in Basel before falling in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, against Tim Henman./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Olympics_2000_h.jpgOlympic Games (2000)Associated PressAmy SancettaAfter reaching the semifinals of the Sydney Olympics, Roger Federer lost to Germany's Tommy Haas by a 6-3, 6-2 score. He then lost the bronze-medal match in three sets against France's Arnaud Di Pasquale./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_FrenchOpen_2000_v.jpgFrench Open (2000)Getty ImagesClive BrunskillPlaying in the French Open for the second time, Roger Federer made it to the fourth round for the first time ever in a Grand Slam event. After surviving a long five-set match in the third round, Federer didn't have enough in the tank the next round. He fell to Alex Corretja 7-5, 7-6 (7), 6-2./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Vienna_1999_h.jpg1999 seasonAssociated PressRudi BlahaThe 1999 season was one of many firsts for Roger Federer. In addition to seeing his first Davis Cup action for the Switzerland team, he also played in his first French Open (losing in the first round to Patrick Rafter) and first Wimbledon (losing in the first round to Jiri Novak). <br/> <br/> <br/> Federer ended the season ranked No. 66, the youngest player that year to be ranked in the top 100 in the men's draw./NBCSports/Interactives and Slideshows/Tennis/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/090602_RogerFederer_career/090602_Wimbledonboyssingles_1998_v.jpgWimbledon (1998)Getty ImagesMike HewittJust 16 years old, Roger Federer won the junior men's singles title at Wimbledon on July 5, 1998. He beat Georgia's Iraldi Labadze 6-4, 6-4 for the title./NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Roger Federer career highlights/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/110503_FrenchOpen_2010_v.jpgFrench Open (2010)AFP/Getty ImagesPatrick KovarikBounced out by Robin Soderling in four sets, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, in the quarterfinals of the 2010 French Open, Roger Federer's impressive streak of reaching 23 successive Grand Slam semifinals came to an end. That run had started at the 2004 French Open. With Rafael Nadal capturing the title at Roland Garros just a few days later, Federer also lost his hold on the No. 1 ranking. Federer fell in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon that year too, losing 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to Tomas Berdych.TennisMore tennis newsMore sports coverageMore slideshowsembss1falseall51

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Career highlights

Take a look back at key moments in Roger Federer's tennis career.

/NBCSports/Components/Photo-Sports/2009/July/090705_RogerFederer_2009_h.jpg1100068800#000000http://msnbcmedia.msn.comClive BrunskillGetty Images EuropeGetty Images2009 Getty ImagesWIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - JULY 05: Roger Federer of Switzerland kisses the trophy after victory during the men's singles final match against Andy Roddick of USA on Day Thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2009 in London, England. Federer won 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Roger FedererThe Championships - Wimbledon 2009 Day Thirteentoppix toppics bestof topix topics Wimbledon Grand Slam TennisSSPO TEN GSE57846207WimbledonEnglandUnited Kingdom633823488000000000187978030Pfalsefalse

/NBCSports/Components/Slideshows-NBC_sports/Tennis/Roger Federer career highlights/ss_090603_RogerFederer_career/110606_RogerFederer_Wimbledon_2009_1000x563.jpg1100056300#000000http://msnbcmedia.msn.comGlyn KirkAFPAFP/Getty Images2009 AFPSwitzerland's Roger Federer lifts the Wimbledon Trophy after beating Andy Roddick of the US 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14, in the Men's Singles Final of the 2009 Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in southwest London, on July 5, 2009. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)Switzerland's Roger Federer lifts the WiKISS PROFILE VERTICAL TROPHY JOY WINNER PORTRAIT MAN FINAL WIMBLEDON TENNISSTENDV544203LondonGreater LondonUNITED KINGDOM6338234880000000001Pfalsefalse

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Return Games Won
Djokovic and Nadal lead the parade, but Federer, the No. 3 man in any stat that would seem extra significant because it mirrors the rankings (as it did in yesterday's Second Serve Points Won category), is conspicuously absent. He is way down at No. 15, suggesting that, at least these days, breaking serve is his area of greatest weakness. In fact, Federer is in the top 10 in only the first category discussed above, and barely, hanging in at No. 9.

Murray's No. 4 position in this category undercuts to some degree his relatively low break-point conversion numbers. Can it be that Murray simply sees that many more break points? I'd rather have a poor conversion percentage (say, 4 of 11 in a five-set match ) than a high rate based on a low number of opportunities (say, 2 of 3 in the same five-setter).

And there's our friend, Fabio Fognini, sitting pretty at No. 6, ahead of such big names as Federer, Soderling and Juan Martin del Potro.

Biggest Surprise: Juan Ignacio Chela is in there at No. 5, which means he's No. 8 or better (and as high as No. 1) in all return categories. I know he's got a big rep as a defensive, return-game player, but the fact that he's just No. 21 in the world despite this defensive prowess tells me that his hold game must be truly woeful.

Bottom line, after two days of stat crunching? Individual categories are most meaningful when paired with other categories, and in all cases they suggest rather than prove, and don't always suggest in the most meaningful way. Still, it would be perverse not to keep these statistics, and their dubious or conditional relevance is a testament to the mental - unquantifiable - nature of the game.

For more news, go to Tennis.com



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