Roger Federer, a genius who made tennis look effortless—and who became the world’s greatest player, is also a supremely modest man who believes his biggest achievements were as good as his biggest achievements. Yet one of those achievements, when Federer won his first Grand Slam at the 2006 Australian Open, proved to be the peak of his career. At 34, he had reached the top of the game by reaching the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the US Open, which were won at the same time. He had also reached the fourth round in the French Open and had reached his second Grand Slam final. In a series of stunning performances, he won the Australian Open, the U.S. Open and the Wimbledon men’s singles final. He finished that championship with a stunning record of 20 wins, including titles at both his home clay-court tournaments (the French Open and the Wimbledon Championships) and the biggest event on the tour, the US Open.
Federer came into the final at Wimbledon against fellow Swiss Johan Brunström with two Grand Slam titles, the Olympic gold medal, three U.S. Open titles and a five-year world ranking of No. 2. He had been world No.1 from the beginning of 2008 until February 2010, when he fell to the fourth round of Wimbledon in straight sets, and then was world No. 2 for eight months. Now he was hoping to improve his record at the final Grand Slam of the season against another top-ranked player in the world—Nishikori, who had been No.1 in the world for seven months. But Nishikori was not even in the draw for this tournament, and Federer had never beaten a top-ranked player in the final of a Grand Slam since 2004.
And it was another player, the Canadian Mark Philippoussis, who had the chance to become the first man since Ken Rosewall in 1968, and the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to defeat Federer at the Wimbledon Championships and the U.S. Open.