Sixty-five consecutive Grand Slam appearances, 17 Major titles, 302 weeks as World No. 1 (237 of them on the trot) later, Roger Federer will be MIA (missing in action) for the first time in a Grand Slam.
When Roland Garros gets ready for the clay-fest of the year in a few days time, the Swiss master's ironman streak ends.
The world record run that started way back in the 2000 Australian Open as an 18-year-old when he defeated 28-year-old Michael Chang, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (5), will finally come to an end in 2016. Federer announced to the world that he will not be stepping out with his fellow competitors in the year's second Grand Slam - The French Open.
Basically, if you are a 17-year-old, you won't have ever seen a Grand Slam without Federer in it!
Last time Federer didn't play a slam there were over a BILLION fewer people in the world & MySpace had just launched pic.twitter.com/QpdpbJBdyG— BBC Tennis (@bbctennis) May 19, 2016
And there is not anyone close to overtaking the 65-Slam streak currently either. Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco are the active players who have a chance and it can't happen for at least two more years.
Longest Grand Slam Main Draw Streaks (Open Era)1-@RogerFederer 65T2-@Feliciano_Lopez 56T2-W. Ferreira 564-S. Edberg 545-@FerVerdasco 51— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) May 19, 2016
If Novak Djokovic, the current world no.1, wants to break Federer's record, he will have to play for at least 5 more years. Even with his amazing fitness levels, this won't be easy.
And here's more mind-boggling numbers:
If you include Federer's appearance in qualifying rounds of Grand Slams, the run is 73 - SEVENTY THREE straight major appearances.
Starting from Wimbledon 2004, he made the quarter-finals in 36 consecutive slams, semi-finals in 23 consecutive slams.
This includes a a record 47 Grand Slam quarter finals and 39 semi-final appearances!
Federer completed a career Grand Slam when he captured the 2009 title in Paris.
His overall record in the French capital stands at 65 wins against just 16 losses with four defeats in finals, all at the hands of Nadal with the most recent back in 2011. He made his debut as a 17-year-old in 1999 when he was defeated in the first round by Pat Rafter.
Federer has enjoyed a relatively injury-free career but his back has become increasingly a cause for concern.
It forced him to scratch from the 2014 World Tour Finals title match against Djokovic in London although he recovered in time to team up with Wawrinka for a first Davis Cup title later in the year.
Some fans were understandably very upset:
No. No. No Roger!I don't remember seeing a Grand Slam without Roger Federer. I don't wanna see a Grand Slam without Roger Federer....— ZENIA D'CUNHA (@ZENIADCUNHA) May 19, 2016
The last Slam that Federer missed was in 1999. To give you perspective, it was back when Cartoon Network used to switch to TNT after 9PM.— SMV (@poisonaavi) May 19, 2016
I only want to give you the biggest hug now @rogerfederer . My life wouldn't be the same if I hadn't watched you play that Wimby qtr in 2001— Hershey (@RogerisGod) May 19, 2016
"It makes me sad and it's scary. It's bizarre to say Roger won't be in Paris," Wawrinka told the ATS news agency.
"It proves that we are never safe from injury. It's a big blow for his fans and for him as he's had a very difficult season."
Bizarre indeed, Stan. Bizarre, indeed.
With AFP inputs