Roger Federer made a Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros 1999, reaching back-to-back quarter-finals in Paris and London two years later, stunning the seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras at the All England Club. The young Swiss grabbed only six Major victories in 2002 and bounced back stronger a year later to claim the first crown at Wimbledon, starting an incredible journey on the biggest tournaments and still standing tall on it.
That 2003 Wimbledon saw Roger in the first Major semi-final, becoming a regular guest in the last four at the most significant events in the calendar and reaching the record-breaking 46 Major semi-finals overall so far, with the latest coming a couple of days ago in Melbourne, at the age of 38 years and five months!
In 18 consecutive years between 2003-20, Roger has been a participant in at least one Major semi-final every season, setting an incredible record that will take some beating in the future, even by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic!
Roger is the player with most Major titles, finals and the semi-finals, winning enough titles to become one of the most successful players at three of those and completing his collection after conquering Roland Garros in 2009 for a Career Grand Slam.
In the previous decade, Nadal and Djokovic were more accomplished competitors at Majors than Roger who is still in front of them (20), with Nadal trailing one title behind the Swiss (19) and Djokovic who stands on 16, at least until the Sunday's Australian Open final.
Nine players in the Open era have been able to reach at least one semi-final for at least 11 years, with Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe achieving that in 1991 and 1992, joined by Boris Becker in 1996. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi had prominent Major runs as well before Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal took charge, propelling the Swiss right at the top and leaving Nadal and Djokovic on 13 so far, two behind Andre Agassi who was capable of bringing deep results at Majors well after turning 30.
Federer grabbed the 18th season with at least one Major semi-final already in Melbourne, beating Steve Johnson, Filip Krajinovic, John Millman, Marton Fucsovics and Tennys Sandgren, after fending off seven match points. The fourth-oldest Major semi-finalist couldn't do much in the battle for the place in the final against Novak Djokovic but this is another notable result for him, especially considering his age and the way he had to pass to reach the last four.