Posted by Paul
"Great" is a word bandied around all too frequently in the world of modern sport – but amid the hyperbole, the real thing remains is as conspicuous as ever.
Last year, after their Ashes triumph, the England cricket team lapped up the praise lavished upon them by an adoring media and public before accepting MBEs from the Queen, but in the last couple of months the country has squirmed as these same players were exposed as something less than sporting greats.
So who does deserve to be labelled a true great?
Diego Maradona, Tiger Woods and yes, England’s tormentor-in-chief, Shane Warne will all pass into the annals of history as men who were on a level above even their nearest rivals – and in tennis there is another.
Roger Federer – who has just claimed his third Australian Open and 10th Grand Slam title with a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-4 win over Fernando Gonzalez – established his claim to the pantheon some time ago.
Among the growing list of statistics that confirm the Swiss star’s dominance of the game, he now becomes the first man to win a Grand Slam title without dropping a set since Bjorn Borg back in 1980.
The devastatingly consistent Swiss has turned tennis into art and at the age of 25 is on course to obliterate Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams.
With three consecutive Wimbledons and three consecutive US Opens under his belt, the peerless Federer is missing only the French Open title, and the odds are short for him to complete the Grand Slam set this summer in Paris.
The way Federer is going, it is entirely conceivable that he will one day be judged as the greatest sportsman in history. Maradona, Woods, Warne, Muhammad Ali and Pele are rightly considered to be among the best but Federer might just be good enough to surpass them all.