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Posts Tagged ‘Roger Federer’

This weekend, the Australian Open saw both Serena Williams and Roger Federer make tennis history. Serena beat her sister Venus to win her 23 Major title, meaning she has now won more Majors than any women in the Open era. The following day, Federer beat Rafa Nadal to win his 18th Major title, extending his lead over other men in tennis history. Both finals were like a throw-back to 10 years ago, no one would have imagined finals involving the Williams sisters and Federer and Nadal.

Sublime Serena

Anyone who has read my blogposts on tennis knows that I am a huge fan of Serena. However, I found myself hoping that her sister Venus would win on Saturday, a strange position to find myself. It’s not that I didn’t want Serena to win her 23 Major title, I did ver much. But, I also thought that this could be Venus’ last chance at a Major title, she seems much closer to retiring than her younger sister, partly because she battles with an auto-immune disease.

However, the fairytale of Venus winning was not to be; her younger sister overpowered her in two sets to take a well-deserved title and hence become the winner of an incredible 23 Major titles. This takes her clear of Steffi Graf, and so Serena is now the greatest woman tennis player in the Open era. Only Margaret Court has won more Majors, but she won hers during the time when tennis was not open, so one could argue (as I would), that Court was not playing against all of the best women players, some of whom had turned professional.

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Serena Williams won her 23 Major title, moving one clear of Steffi Graf and becoming the woman who has held most Major titles in the Open era. Only Margaret Court has held more, 24, but she won hers before tennis went open.

One of the many remarkable statistics about Serena is this is the 9th Major she has won since turning 30! This compares to Martina Navratilova, who won 18 Majors in total but only 3 after she turned 30. Serena shows no sign of slowing down, if she looks after her body there is no reason why she cannot carry on for another 2 or 3 years. Already, in my opinion, she has shown herself to be the greatest woman tennis player in history; but she would take great pleasure in not only passing Margaret Court’s 24 Majors, but obliterating it by winning 25 or more.

Federer vs Nadal – déjà vu!

After Serena v Venus on Saturday, on Sunday we had another trip down memory lane; a Federer v Nadal final. If you didn’t know it, you would have thought that you had been transported back to 2007! Both Federer and Nadal came into the Australian Open after very little competitive tennis, both having suffered injury riddled seasons in 2016. For Nadal this is nothing new, sadly his injuries have dogged his career in the last 3 to 4 years. But, for Federer to have an injury lay-off is something completely new to him. Ironically, the knee operation which forced his 6-month break from the tour was not sustained playing tennis, but instead by twisting his knee when he slipped in his bathroom running a bath for his children!

But, it looks like the freshness had done both a favour. With Djokovic going out in the second round,  and Murray in the third, the draw opened up for both men to make it to the final. A Federer v Nadal final is something that I am sure neither thought that they would see again in their careers.

It was a cracker of a match. Federer won the first set, Nadal the second. Federer cruised through the third (6-1), but Nadal came back to win the fourth. He even broke Federer in the first set of the fifth, and it looked like the writing was on the wall for Federer. But, at 3-2 down in the fifth, Federer raised his game, broke back to 3-3 and then won the next 3 games to take the final set 6-3.

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Federer beat Nadal in a thrilling 5-set match to win his 18 Major title. He now stands 4 clear of Nadal, and it is his first Major title since winning Wimbledon in July 2012.

Just like Serena, Federer showed once again why he is, arguably, the greatest tennis player the men’s game has ever seen. That is a highly contentious claim, and I would qualify it by saying that we really can’t compare eras. But, for my money, the only player from any era who could claim to be the greatest ever if it’s not Federer would be Rod Laver. Both Federer and Serena are 35; but contrary to Serena, Federer has only won two Majors since turning 30. I think Federer is closer to the end of his career than Serena, but if he manages his body and tournaments wisely I see no reason why he cannot win Wimbledon for a couple more years, he is still the finest natural grass court player around today.

Well done the oldies!!!

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Scotland’s Andy Murray has won his 2nd Wimbledon title, three years after winning it for the first time. He has now won 3 Major titles, having also won the US Open in 2012. Remarkably, it was his 11th Major final. Murray beat Canadian Milos Raonic, who was playing in his first Major final. 

Andy Murray won his 2nd Wimbledon title yesterday (Sunday10 July)


As anyone who reads my blog will know, I’m a huge Federer fan, so I was disappointed to see him go out in a thrilling 5-set defeat to Raonic in the semi-finals. I’m still hopeful that Federer can win a few more majors before he finally retires, but clearly his chances of doing so are getting slimmer and slimmer. 

Murray is a very popular champion. He is widely respected and admired for his level of commitment and dedication to being one of the world’s best tennis players. Will he be able to start beating Djokovic in future Majors? Only time will tell, but he will give it everything that he’s got. 

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Yesterday (Saturday 2 July) saw reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic crash out of Wimbledon in the third round to American Sam Querrey. Not only was Djokovic defending his title,  but he is currently the holder of all four Major titles, a feat not done since Rod Laver in 1969, as I mentioned in this blog here.

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Novak Djokovic suffered a shock defeat in the 3rd round of Wimbledon, brining to a halt his dream of doing the Grand Slam (holding all four Major titles in the same calendar year).

Djokovic’s defeat of course opens up the draw to other contenders. As Djokovic was seeded number 1, and Andy Murray number 2, it will make no difference to Andy Murray unless he reaches the final as they are in opposite parts of the draw. However, it may make a difference to my own favourite, Roger Federer, as he is seeded number 3. Federer would have met Djokovic in the semi-finals if they had both progressed.

I will keep my fingers crossed that this time next week I will be looking forward to a men’s singles final featuring Federer. I so want to see him surpass the record he currently jointly holds with Pete Sampras and win his 8th Wimbledon title. We shall see.

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As anyone who follows my blog postings on tennis knows, I am a huge Federer fan. Yesterday (Friday the 10th), he dispatched Andy Murray with apparent ease to make his way to his tenth Wimbledon final. He has not dropped a set during his passage through the tournament, and has only dropped his service once. Tomorrow he will try to win Wimbledon for the 8th time, and if he succeeds he will make history. The final is a repeat of last year’s final against Djokovic, a final that Federer could have won, and looking back probably feels that he should have won. Federer currently shares the record of the most number of Wimbledon titles with Pete Sampras (see my blog here), with both on 7; but tomorrow he could own this record all to himself. And, he will extend his record of the most Major titles from 17 to 18. If he wins.



As anyone who follows my blogs on tennis knows, I am a huge Federer fan.

Federer looked imperious against Murray, beating him comfortably in three straight sets.



Later today, at 2pm British Summer Time, Serena Williams will also be trying to make some history. If she wins in today’s final she will have won 21 Major titles, and be only one away from equalling Steffi Graf’s record of 22. In addition, she will hold all four Majors at the same time, having won last year’s US Open in September and this year’s Australian and French in January and June respectively. She will also be on course to do the Grand Slam, win all four Majors in the same year, something which has not been done since Steffi Graf did it in 1988, nearly 30 years ago. I would not put it past her, the determination she has shown in this Wimbledon has been a lesson to anyone who wants to see how hard you have to apply yourself to succeed. When she was nearly dead and buried against Heather Watson (see my blog here) she dug deep and found a way to win.

I need to update my July 2013 blog on tennis statistics (Tennis Roll of Honours” see here), as Serena has moved on from the 17 Major titles she had then to 20. Unfortunately Roger’s 17 has not changed, but hopefully by Monday morning they will be on 21 and 18 respectively!

By the way, in this blog I posted a video of the greatest display of tennis I have ever seen, John McEnroe’s demolition of Jimmy Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon final. However, the video no longer works. McEnroe won 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in the most one-sided thrashing of another high-ranked player that I have ever seen, and some of the tennis McEnroe played on that day surpasses anything I have witnessed, even from Federer. I have found a new link to the video of that match, so if you fancy seeing it you can watch it below. The quality is very poor in places, which is a pity.





So, I’m hoping for a Serena Roger double this weekend! Who are you rooting for?

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Nova Djokovic denied Roger Federer his 8th Wimbledon title in a 5-set match which will go down as a classic. Both players sustained tennis of the highest level to thrill the crowd for over three and a half hours. At 2-5 down in the 4th set, and facing match point, it looked like it was all over for Federer, but remarkably he won 5 games in a row to take the 4th set 7-5 and take it into a 5th and deciding set.



Djokovic has described his victory in yesterday's Wimbledon final as the most special of his career.

Djokovic has described his victory in yesterday’s Wimbledon final as the most special of his career.



Federer won the first set in a tie-break, but then was broken early in the 2nd set, which Djokovic went on to take 6-4. Djokovic also took the 3rd set, this time in a tie-breaker, and when he stood at 5-2 up in the 4th set it looked like it was all over for Federer. But, digging deep and coming up with some amazing shots, Federer levelled the match at two sets all, and it looked like the dream of his winning his 8th Wimbledon was back on.

Importantly, after losing 5 games in a row, Djokovic won the opening game of the final set, which eventually went to 4-4 before Djokovic broke Federer’s serve for the 2nd time in the set, and then served out the match to take the final set 6-4. For a match which lasted for over three and a half hours, it was remarkable how high the level of tennis was for nearly the entire match. Although I was hoping Federer would win, no-one can deny that Djokovic played superbly well and it was a match he won rather than Federer losing it.

A number of commentators have said that, at soon to be 33, there is no reason that Federer cannot carry on for several more years. He has stayed remarkably injury-free for nearly his entire career, testimony to how balanced a player he is. For a player who has achieved everything in tennis very few things can still motivate him, but it is no secret that winning 8 Wimbledons is one thing he still wishes to achieve, so I fully expect Federer to be back in 2015 trying to win that elusive 8th title.

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Not for the first time, today Roger Federer stands on the verge of creating tennis history. This afternoon he will take on Novak Djokovic in the men’s final at Wimbledon, and should he win he will have won “The Championships” (as Wimbledon calls itself) more times than any other man in history. Currently, he holds 7 Wimbledon titles, and so jointly holds the record with Pete Sampras. And, in some ways, with William Renshaw from the 1800s, although I am not sure Renshaw can really be counted for reasons I will now explain.

Until 1922, the defending Wimbledon champion did not have to go through any qualifying rounds, he (or she) would merely play in the final against whoever had gone through a knockout competition to challenge him (or her). So, of Renshaw’s 7 titles, which he won in 1881-1886 and 1889, he only had to go through the “challenge rounds” in 1881 and 1889, his other 5 titles involved winning merely one match, the final. So, with all respect to Renshaw, I don’t think it is fair to compare his 7 titles to the 7 won by Sampras and Federer.

Sampras won his 7 Wimbledon titles from 1993-1995 and 1997-2000. For the best part of a decade, Sampras dominated Wimbledon. The only Wimbledon he failed to win between 1993 and 2000 was in 1996, when Dutchman Richard Krajicek won, beating Sampras in the Quarter Finals on his way to the title. Sampras also broke the record for the most number of major titles won (all four majors), eventually winning 14 before he retired.



Pete Sampras winning his first of 7 Wimbledon titles in 1993

Pete Sampras winning his first of 7 Wimbledon titles in 1993





Pete Sampras winning the last of his 7 Wimbledon titles in 2000

Pete Sampras winning the last of his 7 Wimbledon titles in 2000



Federer won the first of his 7 Wimbledon titles in 2003, by which time the era of “serve-volleyers” had come to and end. The 2001 title was won by Croatian Goran Ivanišvić who was a serve volleyer, but the 2002 title was won by Australian Leyton Hewitt, who rallied from the baseline. Federer won Wimbledon in 2003-2007, 2009 and 2012. He was also runner-up in 2008, when he lost to Spaniard Rafael Nadal.



Roger Federer winning the first of his 7 Wimbledon titles in 2003

Roger Federer winning the first of his 7 Wimbledon titles in 2003





Roger Federer winning his 7th Wimbledon title in 2012

Roger Federer winning his 7th Wimbledon title in 2012



Federer has won a total of 17 major titles, so currently holds that record, but Nadal has now equalled Sampras’ total of 14 titles. And, should be win today, Federer will also become the oldest Wimbledon men’s champion in the open era, as he will soon turn 33.

There is also an interesting auxiliary rivalry to today’s match, as Djokovic now has Boris Becker helping him, and Federer has recently started employing Stefan Edberg to help him. As Becker and Edberg met each other in 3 successive Wimbledon finals (1988-1990), I am sure there is still a healthy rivalry between them, even though they are also good friends.

I for one will be shouting for Federer. I have said this before in previous tennis blogs, but for me Federer is the most skilful player since John McEnroe in the 1980s. His range of shots is, I believe, greater than anyone since McEnroe, and I also feel that Edberg has brought a new confidence to Federer coming to the net, which has never been a natural part of his game but could give him that extra element to win his 8th Wimbledon title in the twilight of his career.

My main fear for Federer is that his progress through Wimbledon this year has just been too easy. He’s only dropped one service game so far in the tournament, and hasn’t yet been challenged in the way that Djokovic will surely challenge him. But, he also knows what winning Wimbledon is all about, and must realise that his chances of winning that elusive 8th Wimbledon title are getting slimmer and slimmer with each passing year.

Fingers crossed that he manages to do it today!

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Rafael Nadal made history in winning the French Open yesterday in Paris. In doing so he became the first man in history to win the same Tennis Major 8 times, as he won his 8th French Open title.


Nadal created history in Paris yesterday, by becoming the first male tennis player to win 8 titles of any particular Tennis Major.

Nadal created history in Paris yesterday, by becoming the first male tennis player to win 8 titles of any particular Tennis Major.


Prior to winning his 8th French Open title, Nadal, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras jointly held the record of 7 titles of a particular Tennis Major, with Sampras and Federer each having won Wimbledon 7 times. Other tennis players have won the same Major 7 times before tennis became open in the late 1960s (I’m not including them as they were sometimes not competing against the best players who were barred by having turned professional).

I have to admit, because I am such a big fan of Roger Federer, I probably haven’t given due credit to how good a tennis player Nadal is. When he is playing against Federer, I always want Federer to win. But, just as Federer has made history in winning more Majors than any man in history, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nadal carries on setting records. Maybe one day he will surpass Federer’s record for the most major titles won, which currently stands at 17. Whether Federer will be able to add to this total before he retires we shall have to wait and see. I for one will be rooting for him at Wimbledon in two weeks’ time.

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After yesterday’s semi-finals, we now know the line-up for the 2012 Wimbledon Men’s final. 6-times champion Roger Federer against the Scot Andy Murray. It will be Murray’s 1st Wimbledon final, although he has made it to the final of a Major three times before (twice in the Australian Open and once in the US Open). Although Murray is a fellow Celt, I will be shouting for Roger Federer, my favourite player of the last decade.

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Roger Federer in his jacket celebrating 15 Major titles.

This will be Andy Murray’s 1st Wimbledon final and his 4th Major final. He is yet to win a Major.

Federer has the chance to set a number of records on Sunday. Should be win, he will increase his record of Major titles to 17, widening the gap between him and the previous holder Pete Sampras, who won 14 in his career. He will also equal Pete Sampras’ record of 7 Wimbledon titles. Thirdly, he will become only the 3rd man behind Sampras and Rafa Nadal to have won a particular Major 7 times (Nadal achieved this by winning the French Open for a record 7th time this June). And lastly, should he win on Sunday, he will go back to being Number 1 in the World rankings, which will mean he will beat Pete Sampras’ record of the most weeks ranked as World number 1.

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Pete Sampras shaking hands with the man who would eclipse his Majors record, Roger Federer.

Why am I such a big fan of Federer? For me, he is the most complete tennis player I have seen since John McEnroe. I know that is a pretty big statement to make, but it is my opinion! His range of shots, his ability to either play at the baseline or come to the net, is something I don’t feel I’ve seen since John McEnroe. Also, his touch. He has a level of skill and touch with the ball which again, I have not seen since John McEnroe. Sure, in the last 2-3 years Federer has increasingly lost to Nadal and, this last 12 months, to Djokovic. But, without taking anything away from these players, I find they rely more on power, speed and strength rather than the range of shots Federer has. Also, just for Federer’s backhand, he deserves a place in the list of the very best tennis players. As someone who never managed to master a decent backhand, I am in awe of the power and precision he is able to get on his backhand. It is the finest men’s backhand I have ever seen, with Justin Henin having the best women’s backhand I can remember ever seeing.

Should Federer win on Sunday, and thus achieve the list I made above of accomplishments and records, where does it place him in the list of all time tennis greats? It is so difficult (impossible) to compare players from different eras. Not only has the game changed, with the development of modern, more powerful rackets, but also the tournaments have changed. If Djokovic had won the French Open in June he would have become the 1st player since Rod Laver in 1969 to have held all 4 Majors at the same time. Although Federer and Nadal have won all 4 Majors, they have not held them at the same time. And, even if Djokovic had won the French Open, he would not have won all 4 Majors in the same calendar year. Again, Rod Laver is the last person to have done this, in 1969.

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Rod Laver, the only man in the Open era to have done the Grand Slam (winning all 4 Majors in the same calendar year).

What is remarkable about Rod Laver’s achievements is that he did the calendar Grand Slam twice, in 1962 and 1969. And, he didn’t play any of the Majors in the period 1963-1967 as he was banned from playing them, as he turned professional after his 1962 Grand Slam. In 1968 tennis went “open” (allowing professionals to play) and Laver won Wimbledon in that year (note: the Australian Open in 1968 did not allow professionals, the first Major to be open to professionals was the French Open of 1968). The following year, he won the Grand Slam, the first player (male or female) to win it in the Open era, and the only male player to have done so. One can only speculate how many Laver could have won, if he’d been allowed to compete during those years from 1963 to 1967.

However, one has to also remember, and this is not to take anything away from Laver’s remarkable achievements, that in his day 3 of the Majors were held on grass, the only one which wasn’t was the French Open. Additinoally, the Australian Open was held in December at the end of the year, and very few Northern Hemisphere players used to bother going to Australia for it, making it a much easier tournament to win than it is today.

Ultimately I think trying to compare players from different eras is impossible. One can talk about records, number of titles won etc. But even that depends on who is around at the same time. Federer finds himself playing at a time when the level of competition from Nadal and Djokovic is very high, it may be that in Laver’s day he did not have such fierce competition.

I am too young to remember Rod Laver, but I grew up admiring the skill and touch of John McEnroe. He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, due to his frequent outbursts at officials. But, I always saw this as his perfectionism, and also the fact that most of the time he probably did see the ball better than the line judges.

For me, the greatest display of tennis I have ever seen is his victory over Jimmy Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon Men’s final. He completely destroyed Connors, playing as if possessed. He won 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. He himself says it is the best match of tennis he has ever played, every shot he tried came off, and some of the shots he tried were unbelievable. Bearing in mind that Connors was the no. 2 in the World at the time, the gulf between the standard of tennis of the two in that match is truly remarkable.

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John McEnroe, holding the Wimbledon Men’s title cup, which he won in 1981, 1982 and 1984.

The entire 1984 final between McEnroe and Connors seems to be available on YouTube, split into multiple parts. Here is the 1st part:

But, although I would dearly like Federer to win on Sunday, I am in a bit of a win-win situation, because if Andy Murray wins he will become the first Celt to win Wimbledon ever, and we Celts have to stick together. 🙂

UPDATE

Federer wins 3-1. Well done Federer!

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From today’s (Monday the 9th of July 2012) Daily Telegraph newspaper.


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Today sees the semi-finals of the men’s singles at Wimbledon. Or, to be more correct, the gentlemen’s singles. The line up is Roger Federer (seeded 3) v Novak Djokovic (seeded 1) in the first match of the day, then Andy Murray (seeded 4) v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (seeded 5) in the second semi-final.

I am a huge fan of Roger Federer. Ever since he won his first major tournament, Wimbledon, in 2003, I have found him to be the most complete player if his generation. Recently he has lost his dominance, initially to Rafa Nadal, and now also to Novak Djokovic, but I still find him to be a more skilful player than these two. He is, of course, the all time record holder of the most number of Major titles won by a man – 16. This includes 6 Wimbledon titles, just one short of the record of 7 held by Pete Sampras.

Roger Federer, 6 times Wimbledon champion, and the no. 3 seed this year.

Novak Djokovic, the defending Wimbledon champion,and no. 1 seed.

Of course, here in the Disunited Kingdom, the media are in a frenzy over Andy Muarray’s chances of finally winning a Major title. Certainly his path to the final has been eased by the defeat of Nadal last week in the 3rd round. But Tsonga will not be an easy opponent, his game suits grass very well.

The Scot Andy Murray, no. 4 seed. Murray has got to 3 Major finals, but has never won one.

Tsonga, who has never reached a Major final, is seeded no. 5

Should Andy Murray get to Sunday’s final, he will be the first British male player to do so since Bunny Austin in 1938! Yes, this is how long Britain has been starved of a World-class male tennis player. And, you have to go back to 1936 for the last time a British man won Wimbledon, Fred Perry won the last of his three titles in that year.

Since the introduction of the roof over Centre Court, completing the semi-finals today is guaranteed. So, by this evening we will know whether Roger Federer is still on course to get his 7th Wimbledon title, and whether Andy Murray can emulate Bunny Austin in reaching a Wimbledon final.

Update

Both Federer and Murray won by 3 sets to 1, so will meet in Sunday’s final.

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It is one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history. Rafa Nadal, recently crowned as the seven times winner of the French Open (the most ever), lost in the 2nd round of Wimbledon last night. He lost to an unknown from the Czech Republic by the name of Lukas Rosol. I missed the 1st set, but saw the match from that point on. Rosol narrowly lost the 1st set on a tie-breaker, after apparently having 3 set points. But, he went on to win the 2nd and 3rd sets to take a 2-1 lead.

Rafa Nadal winning his 7th French Open title in June 2012

Nadal fought back to win the 4th set, so levelled the match 2-2. By this time it was closing in on 9pm, so the Wimbledon officials made the sensible decision to close the roof and allow play to continue into the early part of the night. Closing the roof and getting the humidity down with the air-conditioning system means a delay of about 30 minutes, which only added to the tension.

When the players came back on court, it was Rosol who came out of the blocks the quickest, continuing the high level of tennis he had played in all but the 4th set. It is not that Nadal played badly, but Rosol outplayed him, and thoroughly deserved his win.

Lukas Rosol beats Nadal in one of the biggest upsets in recent Wimbledon history.

This is probably the biggest upset at Wimbledon (at least in the men’s tournament) since 1996, the year Dutchman Richard Krajicek beat Pete Sampras in the quarter finals, the only defeat Sampras suffered at Wimbledon between 1993 and 2001, during which time he won 7 titles (the most ever at Wimbledon).

My own current favourite player, Roger Federer, hopes to equal Sampras’ record; he currently has won 6 Wimbledon titles in his 16 Major titles, and I am sure would dearly love to equal and then pass Sampras’ Wimbledon record so he can go down at the greatest Wimbledon champion in history.

Roger Federer showing his 16 Major titles (6 Wimbledon, 1 French Open, 5 US Open and 4 Australian Open)

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