Eras in Federer’s career
It is a universally-accepted truth that Federer’s peak years were 2004-2007. These four years’ 16 slams:
- Federer 11 titles
- Nadal 3 titles
- 1 each for Safin and Gaudio
During this period Federer beat Nadal once on clay (Hamburg) once on outdoor hard court (Miami) and twice on grass (Wimbledon)
During the following four years Federer bobbed around the top 3 rankings. The 16 slams were divided up:
- Nadal 7 titles
- Djokovic 4 titles
- Federer 4 titles
- Del Potro 1 title
Federer continued to beat Nadal indoors, but had no victories over him on outdoor hard courts or grass: the 2009 Madrid final on clay was the only outdoor success.
Given Federer’s losses at the Australian Open and the French Open we cannot say we have seen a return to the 2004-2007 version, but we can at least note two things about 2012:
- he beat Nadal on an outdoor hard court at Indian Wells
- he won a slam title while beating his highest-ranked rival in the process.
He acheived neither of these things in the 2008-2011 period.