Roger Federer cuts an unassuming pose. He doesn't carry himself like he's the greatest, most dominant tennis player in history, and yet, that's a debatable claim. In 20 years on the professional tour, Federer has won 20 Grand Slam titles—more than any other male player in the game's history. He's been ranked No. 1 in the world for a record 310 weeks.
How did he manage these feats? By being equally skilled and well-rounded in every on-court aspect of his game. And by being sharp—razor sharp. Back in the '90s, when racquet technology made a massive leap forward, onlookers feared that the professional game would devolve into a one-dimensional 160 mph serving contest. But competitors like Federer, who play a game of fundamentals at the highest possible level, proved those fears wrong.
Federer's game appears, at first glance, to be simple. He doesn't have a big weapon—a monster serve, a massive forehand, a backhand down-the-line—that can win a match on its own. Instead, Federer creates openings, angling his shots to draw an opponent out of position before hitting a well-placed winner. He wins on strategy and shot placement, rather than pyrotechnics. His crafty style has kept him competitive when many of his more athletic colleagues have been sidelined by injuries.
And in the midst of these perfectly placed forehands, smoking backhands, and high percentage serves, Federer also engineers miracle shots—the sort of unlikely court magic that most players could only hope to produce once or twice in a long career. Federer, terrifyingly, does this stuff all the time.
We combed through scores of highlight reels and recorded footage to bring you Roger Federer's most impossible shots, from the well-manicured lawns of the All England Tennis Club to the hard courts of Flushing Meadows. Happy 37th birthday, Maestro. Here's to the years of brilliant play still ahead.