On Wednesday night, Roger Federer advanced to his record 22nd consecutive Grand Slam semifinal. It's an amazing feat, but just how impressive is it? Where does it rank on the list of all-time greatest sports streaks?
Comparing Grand Slam semifinal appearances to consecutive baseball games played is like comparing apples to, um, tennis balls, so we're not going to even try to quantify whether winning five tennis matches in five straight years of Grand Slams is better or worse than Cal Ripken not getting hurt for decade-long stretches.
Instead, here are our choices for the five greatest individual streaks in history, presented in no particular order. Let us know what you think:
-- Roger Federer, 22 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals -- Consider that the next closest man on the list is Ivan Lendl, and he made 10 straight semis. (Lendl broke his own record with his run from 1985-1988. Before that the mark he set was six.) To not lose 110 matches from the first round to the quarterfinals is a testament to Federer's greatness and versatility. (Note: There were a number of women in the Open era with streaks over 10.)
-- Joe DiMaggio, 56 consecutive baseball games with a hit -- Federer's streak may never be broken. DiMaggio's streak will never be broken. Since it was set in 1941 the closest any player has gotten to Joe D's mark was when Pete Rose hit in 44 straight in 1978. (Best part of the DiMaggio story: After the streak was snapped he began a new 16-game hitting streak the day after, meaning that DiMaggio hit safely in 72 of 73 games.)
-- Tiger Woods, 142 consecutive cuts made -- In 2005, Woods had his record cut streak snapped at 142. The next longest streak at that time? 20, held by Ernie Els.
-- Cal Ripken, 2,632 consecutive games played -- The U.S. Open has been going for just 10 days and I already feel like I need a break from working. Ripken didn't get one from 1982 until 1998.
-- Edwin Moses, 122 consecutive 400-meter hurdle victories -- The American hurdler went nine years, nine months and nine days without losing a hurdles race, a span in which he broke his own world record four times.
Streaks of longevity rather than luck (as hitting streaks like DiMaggio's can be) are always more impressive because they show greatness over time rather than greatness contained. That's why Federer's 22 straight Grand Slam semifinals is one of the most remarkable records in the annals of sport.