Mark Philippoussis has admitted that he wouldn’t have predicted Roger Federer to achieve the level of greatness he has today, while also hailing what he has accomplished as extraordinary.
The ex-Davis Cup champion with Australia was the opponent for Federer’s first Grand Slam final, at Wimbledon in 2003. Federer won that game, and has gone on to win 19 more Grand Slams, more than any other man in history.
Philippoussis stated that Federer’s talent was evident, but did not expect him to break the record books like he has. “You always knew he was going to be one of the top players, you knew he would win some Slams but to win what is it, 20? No.”
Federer went into the 2003 Wimbledon as the fourth seed, and was expected to be a major contender for the title along with Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi. He defeated Roddick in the semifinals, becoming the first Swiss man to reach a Grand Slam final, before routing Philippoussis in straight sets in the final. He now has won eight times at the All England Club, another record in men’s tennis.
Th Australian also admitted to expecting Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams to be almost impossible to break, calling the achievements of Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as “unbelievable”. Nadal and Djokovic have been the heavyweights of tennis in the past decade, alongside Federer. The Spaniard has 17 Grand Slams and is the closest behind Federer, while Djokovic clocked up his 14th title by winning the 2018 US Open.
Federer, now 37, will be going into next month’s Australian Open as a favourite for the title, in spite of the widespread rumours about his retirement. He has been the champion Down Under for the past two years, and will be eager to make a strong comeback after his 4th round exit at the US Open and his semifinal loss to Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals.