Tennis Expert & Columnist
Roger Federer is the greatest sportsperson of all time, says Mark Petchey
"I would say that he is the greatest sportsperson of all time, but it's a very debatable subject, there's no question about that"
Last Updated: 29/01/18 7:18am
Mark Petchey has hailed Roger Federer's achievement of becoming a 20-time Grand Slam champion by lording the Swiss maestro as "the greatest sportsperson of all time".
The 36-year-old Federer beat Marin Cilic in five riveting sets to win his sixth Australian Open and record-extending 20th Grand Slam title in Melbourne on Sunday.
The defending champion, playing in his 30th Grand Slam final, dropped his only sets of the tournament before completing a 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 3-6 6-1 win over the giant Croatian.
An emotional Federer joined Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson atop the list of the most Australian Open men's titles.
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Tennis analyst Petchey has ranked Federer's achievements as up there with some of the greatest of all time, saying: "When you start taking into the account the amount of years he's being doing it for now and the myriad of skills you need to be a great tennis player, it's not one thing, it's athleticism, it's the mental side of things, the flexibility, the coordination, it's the strategy.
He [Federer] is somebody who is timeless and can be wrapped into one.
"When I think of it in all those terms, for my money, and I'm not going to speak for people, but he has to be one of the greatest sportspeople of all time, if not the greatest sportsperson of all time.
"I'm biased, I've got rose-coloured glasses on. I would say that he is the greatest sportsperson of all time, but it's a very debatable subject, there's no question about that. In terms of how inspired you feel when you watch him compete and achieve the things which he's still achieving then it's hard for me to think of somebody else that I feel the same about.
"I feel very fortunate to be watching Federer in our lifetime. The Rod Laver era was also a special time because he was doing things that others weren't capable of doing and I wasn't fortunate to watch him live, but this is comparable and Roger has a little bit of everything from every era. He is somebody who is timeless and can be wrapped into one."
As well as joining Djokovic and Emerson as the only men to win six Australian Open trophies, Federer also emulated Laver by winning his fourth Grand Slam title after his 30th birthday.
Petchey was full of praise for Cilic who was forced to adapt to much cooler conditions following the decision to close the roof on Rod Laver Arena for the final.
"Marin showed a lot of character out there," said Petchey. "He did a pretty good job at turning it into a contest. I thought it was made for Marin to show what he was made of after what happened at Wimbledon when there was a lot of conjecture.
"For Roger, he can go on for as long as he wants to. He was still able to defend and move effectively when Marin was hitting the ball as hard as he could, so there doesn't seem to be any signs of Federer slowing up."
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