In our series on the best players of the past 50 years, we look at the Swiss maestro who has a record 20 grand slam titles over a period of 15 years and is still in the shake-up aged 38
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It is nearly two decades since Roger Federer first stepped on to Centre Court and began the greatest act of seduction tennis has seen. In July 2001 he was 19, talented but untested in the white heat of grand slam battle. On the other side of the net stood Pete Sampras, the greatest grass-court gunslinger of them all, with a demon serve and volleys as crisp as a fresh banknote.
The American had won seven of the previous eight Wimbledons and more grand slams than anyone else, yet such was the audacity of Federer’s shot-making in his epic fourth-round victory that he quickly held the crowd – as well his racket – in the palm of his hand.
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Related: The greatest female tennis player of the last 50 years: the fans’ verdict