Scoop Jackson has a fine article about the dominance of Roger Federer. Click on the following link :
It’s interesting to see the athletes that Federer is compared to : Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Pele, Muhammad Ali . Certainly all of these were dominant in their time but, with one exception, I don’t think they are in the same class as Federer.
To begin with, I don’t think that either Bill Russell or Michael Jordan was the most dominant basketball player of all time. That would have to be Wilt Chamberlain who intimidated and dominated opponents throughout his career. Unfortunately, he didn’t have as good as a supporting cast as Russell and came off secondbest aginst the Celtics. In any case, basketball, baseball, football and hockey are team sports , not individual contests. We can have domininant teams in these sports but not dominant individuals. Scratch Russell, Ruth, Jordan,Brown, Gretzky and Pele.
Cycling is really a team sport even though it is an individual who mounts the winners podium. The team supports it’s leader throughout the race, setting the pace, protecting him on breakaways etc. Scratch Lance Armstrong.
Muhammad Ali was a great fighter but he never inspired fear in opponents the way Mike Tyson did. For a period of four or five years, Tyson was the ‘ baddest dude on the planet’. He won his bouts almost before the opening bell was rung , fixing his opponents with a manaical glare that caused their blood to run cold. He may have been despicable but he was dominant.
The short list then is Tyson, Woods and Federer.Of these I would rank Woods and Federer ahead of Tyson and it is a toss-up between those two. One the one hand, Tiger has been on top longer than Roger but that’s because he’s had a head start. Federer is just now entering his prime and may be on top for several years more. On the other hand, as one who does not play golf, it has always been a lesser sport to my way of thinking. I’d be inclined to pick Roger Federer but can quite understand if you pick Tiger Woods.
Incidentally,one of the responses to Jackson’s article downplays Federer’s greatness because he has been unable to beat Nadal on clay court surfaces such as those at the French Open. I think this is a specious reason to deny Federer his just due. Clay courts demand a radically different game than hardcourts or grasscourts. It is a mark of Federer’s greatness that he reached the finals at Roland Garros before losing to Nadal in a protracted struggle. Next year may be a different story.