18 years ago things were very different on the tour for a teenage Roger Federer and his temperamental temper.
At the age of 19, he took on France’s Julien Boutter in the final of the 2001 Milan Indoors Open. Yet to claim a trophy at the professional level, Federer battled to a three sets triumph to win the title. At the time, fans sensed the Swiss player was a star in the making, but they had no idea about how many records he would go on to break. Not even Federer himself.
“My next goal is to break into the top 15, which is a high aim but not an impossible one.” Federer told reporters on February 4th, 2001.
18 years on from that statement, the 37-year-old has established himself as one of the greatest of all time. His current resume features 20 grand slam titles and 310 weeks as world No.1. Furthermore, he has won four tournaments, including Wimbledon, on eight or more occasions.
Federer’s latest milestone occurred on Saturday at the Dubai Tennis Championships. A tournament that is one of his most successful in terms of trophies won. Facing Greek rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas, he prevailed 6-4, 6-4, to avenge his loss to him at the Australian Open earlier this year. A triumph that has rewarded Federer his 100th title on the tour.
“I think this one has a deep satisfaction, an immediate one, because I know what it means.” Federer said during his press conference. “I like these types of numbers or records, to be quite honest.”
“I didn’t come here (to Dubai) expecting I was going to win, to be quite honest. I hadn’t played since Australia. I’m just happy on all fronts how my game progressed, how well I played in the finals, on top of it winning the eighth, winning the 100th. So many magical things going on. I’m very, very happy right now.” He added.
The milestone is a rare one in tennis. In fact, only Jimmy Connors had previously claimed 100 or more titles on the ATP Tour. Connors won 109 singles titles over a 17-year period (1972-1989). On the women’s tour, Steffi Graf, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova have broken the 100 mark.
“I know a lot of people always ask me about, Are you going to go for 109? Winning titles, to answer the question, is not easy.” Said Federer. “Winning five matches in six days or five matches in five days, it takes a different type of fitness.”
“That’s why you have to be fit on many fronts: mentally, physically, also your game has to translate. You have to be able to beat different types of players, not just the grinders, not just the big servers, not just the attacking players. You have to be able to beat them all in successive days.”
Welcome to the “ Triple Digit” tournament victory club @rogerfederer — I’ve been a bit lonely- glad to have the company !!!
— Jimmy Connors (@JimmyConnors) March 2, 2019
The past two decades have seen Federer evolve on the court from a Wimbledon boys’ champion in 1998 to one of the world’s highest paid athletes. In 2018 Forbes Magazine listed his annual earnings as $77.2M with $65M coming from endorsements alone. Last year he signed a 10-year deal with Uniqlo that has a total value of an estimated $300M.
“The more successful you become, the greater the toll becomes in terms of media attention, maybe winning awards, getting rewarded in your country or city or whatever it may be. You have to deal with all these things.” He reflected.
“Your tennis grows in the process very quickly because you’re learning so much about yourself, learning how to play other players, how they’re learning to play you. You try to compress it every single time, in every game, every breakpoint, whatever you’re facing.”
Behind Federer’s success is his team. Severin Lüthi, who is five years older than him, has been guiding Federer on the tour since 2007. Furthermore, former world No.3 Ivan Ljubičić took on a coaching role in 2015. Meanwhile, working in the background is somebody that has been with Federer for almost 20 years – fitness trainer Pierre Paganini.
“I’m sure I took a lot of good and bad decisions along the way. I couldn’t have done it without a team.” Said Federer.
“My team has been phenomenal throughout. I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve said that always time and time again from my first coaches all the way to today. I always had the right coaches always at the right time.”
The final stretch of an extraordinary career
Regardless of his sporting ability, the one thing he can’t escape is getting old. Federer is the fourth oldest player on the ATP Tour to have a ranking. To put this into perspective, Dubai runner-up Tsitsipas was born a month before he made his professional debut.
Whilst it has been an extraordinary journey, has Federer ever been tempted to call it quits?
“I think everybody goes through that. It would be lying if they said, I never doubt it. I think everybody goes through these phases. It’s logical. We have too much downtime, too much time on the road, too much rain delays, you name it, that makes you go through with your head sometimes.” He explained.
“Never to the extent where I’m like really, really contemplating, Is it enough?”
The final chapters in the book of Federer’s career are now taking place. Nobody knows when the ending will take place, but if all go to plan it won’t be within the next 12 months.
“The idea was for the people to know that I am coming back next year. That is the plan. I have a deal for next year.” He commented about playing in the 2020 Dubai Tennis Championships.
“I thought about it this week because I know they said they were interested to have me again next year, if it was okay to announce it during the week. I said, Absolutely, we can do that.”
It seems almost impossible that Federer could one day emulate Connors and retire from the sport at the age of 43. Then again, Federer has proven time after time that he is anything, but ordinary.
Federer’s marathon journey in the sport has reached the closing stages, but don’t be surprised if he breaks more records before he crosses the finish line.
Federer’s 100 titles in numbers
Type of event
Grand Slams – 20
ATP World Tour Finals – 6
ATP Masters Series/1000 – 27
ATP International Series Gold /500 Series – 22
ATP International Series/250 Series – 25
Hard – 69
Grass – 18
Clay – 11
Carpet – 2
Grand Slam titles in detail
Australian Open (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018)
French Open (2009)
Wimbledon (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017)
US Open (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
Andy Murray To Play Four Tournaments In A Row Following Shanghai Wild Card
It is going to be a busy few week’s for the British player as he continues his comeback to the tour.
The comeback of former world No.1 Andy Murray is gaining momentum after he received a wild card into the most high-profile men’s tournament in China.
The three-time Grand Slam champion has been given entry into the Shanghai Masters, which will get underway on October 5th. Murray is one of only three players to have won the title three or more times. His last triumph was back in 2016 when he defeated Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the final. That was also the last time the Brit played in the tournament after being hampered by a serious hip injury over the past two years.
“I’m really looking forward to going back to Shanghai, a tournament I have had success at in the past.” Murray said in a statement.
“Thanks to the tournament for a wild card, it’s great to be able to continue my comeback and play more tennis in China. Shanghai is a great city; I feel comfortable there and the fans are always supportive.”
Murray is continuing his return to the tour after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery earlier this season. The second operation he has had on his hip in as many years. So far in his singles comeback, the 32-year-old has lost his opening matches in Cincinnati (to Richard Gasquet) and Winston-Salem (to Tennys Sandgren). He is currently ranked 415th in the world.
“We are delighted to have Andy return to the tournament where he has been so successful,” Shanghai tournament director Michael Luevano said. “He is incredibly popular with our fans and we are all thrilled to see him back on the courts and heading to Shanghai.’
“He has been through a lot physically in recent times so to see him back doing what he loves is very rewarding for everyone in tennis.”
The addition of Shanghai to his schedule means Murray will play four tournaments in four weeks across two continents. He will also play at events in Zhuhai (ATP 250) and Beijing (ATP 500) prior to the Masters tournament. Then the week after, he will return to Europe to play at the European Open (ATP 250) in Antwerp, Belgium.
Murray is hoping to return back to his top form. So far in his career, he has won 45 titles on the ATP Tour and spent 41 consecutive weeks as world No.1.
Borna Coric Opens Up About Split With Coach
The Croatian No.1 has criticised his ex-mentor for working with Maria Sharapova earlier this year.
Borna Coric has said he had differences of opinion with his former coach ‘for some time’ before they decided to go their separate ways.
The world No.15 has shed light on the reasons behind his decision to part ways with Riccardo Piatti earlier this month. The two have worked together since 2017. Under Piatti’s guidance, Coric won the biggest title of his career in Halle last year. However, he hasn’t won any more silverware since then.
“There have been differences for some time, since the beginning of the year.” Coric said earlier this week.
“They reached the pinnacle at the US Open, after which we all sat around a table and decided to interrupt the collaboration.”
Piatti is a renowned coach in the world of men’s tennis and has worked with many top names. Including Novak Djokovic, Richard Gasquet and Milos Raonic. He also has his own academy in Italy, where he spent some time with Maria Sharapova during the summer and supported her during the US Open. Something that has been criticised by Coric.
“We can say that, it certainly did not help to resolve the differences and made the situation worse.” He commented on Piatti’s work with Sharapova.
“This was one of the main reasons. He is following several projects and could no longer focus fully on me. Given this and the previous divergences, we assessed that the separation was the best option.” Coric added.
The 22-year-old is hoping to end the year on a high after another injury setback. At the US Open he was forced to withdraw from the second round due to a back injury. His win-loss for the season currently stands at 23-15. Coric’s best runs so far in 2019 were at Doha and s-Hertogenbosch where he reached the semi-finals of both tournaments.
Coric is set to return to action next week in St. Petersburg, where he will be the fourth seed.
“Regardless of the situation, I have to try to make the most of this season . I am working hard in anticipation of the return to the field in St. Petersburg.” He concluded.
For the rest of the season Coric will be coached by Antonio Veic. Although there is a chance that more members will be added to his team in the near future.
Gerard Pique Sheds Light On Chances of Roger Federer Returning To Davis Cup
The Swiss maestro is the only member of the Big Three not to feature in the revamped event later this year.
There is a 50/50 chance that Roger Federer could play in next year’s Davis Cup finals, according to Kosmos founder Gerard Pique.
The Barcelona F.C. player has confirmed that talks are ongoing about the former world No.1 featuring in the historic event, which has been revamped this year. For the first time in it’s 119-year history, the finals will take place over a week and feature 18 teams taking part in a round-robin format. The change has split opinion in the sport, but was given the green light at the ITF’s annual AGM meeting last year. Pique’s investment company Kosmos is a key financial backer of the changes.
One notable absence from this year’s finals, which will be held in Madrid, is Federer. The former world No.1 has in the past been a critic of the new format. Once saying the tournament has been designed for ‘the future generation of players,’ but not him. He has also warned against the team competition being turned into the ‘Pique Cup.’ A term the Spaniard is not a fan of.
“I wanted since the first moment I arrived in the tennis world, is to try to help this sport.” Pique said during an interview with Sport Business.
“Switzerland has not qualified for November so even if Roger wants to play in this event, he cannot, but we are talking with him and his agent to discuss the possibility to play in 2020.”
As is currently stands, Federer is the only member of the big three not to be playing. Rafael Nadal has vowed to play if healthy and Novak Djokovic announced his attendance on the eve of the US Open. The Serbian had previously expressed his reservations over participating due to its close proximity to the ATP Cup, another team event that will kick-off in January.
“I just feel like the date of the Davis Cup is really bad, especially for the top players. Between the two, I will prioritize the World Team Cup because that’s a competition of ATP.” The world No.1 said last year.
So why has Djokovic decided to play in Madrid? When asked in Flushing Meadows he said he wanted to represent his country. However, Pique believes there is more to it than that. Saying that he had managed to persuade the Serbian following conversations between the two.
“I said to him, ‘I know you are an ATP player but at the same time you represent the federation of Serbia, which is part of the ITF which invests in young talent and the future of tennis. I think it makes total sense that you participate in both competitions because it is a message that at the end of the day that you want [for the ATP and ITF] to work together.”
One criticism of the event is the timing of the finals. They will take place between November 18-24, the week after the ATP Finals in London. Partly eating into what is already a relatively short off-season for many players on the tour.
ITF President David Haggerty is hoping that negotiations over a potential change in dates can be made in the future with the new leader of the ATP. Current CEO Chris Kermode will be leaving his position later this year after failing to receive enough backing in a ATP board meeting.
“There is leadership change coming and once that’s completed we will continue discussions to see what’s the best date.” Haggerty outlined.
“We need to have the first Davis Cup finals in November and the ATP Cup will be in January and then we will have more facts and have a good discussion.”
The inaugural Davis Cup finals will be held at the Caja Magica. The same venue as the Madrid Open, which takes place annually in May.
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