The American Stan Smith was 21 when the Open era started in the spring of 1968. The Pasadena native claimed two Major titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, embracing an even more notable doubles career and competing in the title match at all four Majors, lifting five trophies. The winner of almost 50 ATP titles is also the first ATP Finals champion, conquering the event in December 1970 in Tokyo, on his birthday. It was a round-robin format, and Smith defeated the names like Rod Laver, Jan Kodes and Ken Rosewall, securing the victory and becoming the first champion of what would turn to be one of the most prestigious ATP tournaments in the calendar. Stan played his last singles match in 1985, retiring but staying in the sport in the segment of tennis shoes, building one of the most famous brands. In the recent interview, Smith said that Roger Federer is the greatest player of all time in his book, ahead of Rod Laver, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras.
Roger Federer became the most accomplished player in history when he won the Wimbledon crown in 2009, claiming his 15th Major and adding five more to his tally, the last one in Melbourne 2018. Roger had the opportunity to go even further and remain ahead of Rafael Nadal, squandering two match points against Novak Djokovic in the last year's Wimbledon final, playing on a high level just a couple of weeks before turning 39. Federer played only one tournament in 2020, reaching the Australian Open semi-final and missing the rest of the year after two knee surgeries.
For Stan Smith, Roger Federer is the greatest player of all time.
The first came in February, and it wasn't enough to take the pain away, with Federer undergoing another in May, finishing the season and setting eyes on 2021. Eager to compete against the rivals from the top again, Federer has been working hard in the past couple of months, hoping for another strong push in the season ahead of us. At the moment, it is uncertain whether the Australian Open will start as planned in January, with Tennis Australia working hard with the Victoria government on securing the first Major of the season, a badly needed one after a plagued 2020.
"In my all-time rankings, I put Roger Federer ahead of Rod Laver, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg. The game was different in the past with a wooden racquet, less powerful and slower; if you didn't hit a ball in the perfect center of the head, you would miss. I believe that the only one who would be equally successful with a wooden racquet is Roger Federer; he plays clean and flat, as we did," Stan Smith said.