Roger Federer refuses to fade away. Like the bunny in an advertisement of a battery company, he keeps on going.
After a disappointing 2013, the Swiss maestro’s annus horribilis, who would have thought he would be celebrating the addition of the only major trophy missing from his CV, the Davis Cup, after his 33rd birthday?
On Sunday, he added another milestone to his glittering resume – 1,000 wins on the ATP Tour. Only two other men have managed this feat in the Open era, Jimmy Connors (1,253) and Ivan Lendl (1,071).
Federer’s first Tour win came at Toulouse in 1998, when he beat Guillaume Raoux 6-2, 6-2. Since then he has won a record 17 grand slam singles crowns and US$88.7 million (Dh326m) in prize money; he has appeared in a record 60 consecutive grand slams and has held the world No1 ranking for 302 weeks.
To put those figures in context, the most dominant player of this generation on the women’s side, Serena Williams, is two months younger than Federer but played her first Tour match in 1995. She is 684-120 in career singles matches, while the Swiss is 1,000-227.
Federer’s consistency, according to Australian legend Ken Rosewall, comes from his “desire to play, because he loves to compete”. The Swiss agrees.
“I tried to chase perfection, I guess, to a degree at some point,” he said in a recent interview with the Times of India. “I guess I’m still trying that. You never stop learning, and I think that’s a very interesting and important aspect of the game.
“That’s why I’m still out here today, playing on the Tour and doing exhibition matches because I genuinely and truly love tennis.”
This chase for “perfection” and love of the sport saw Federer reinvent himself in 2014 with a bigger racquet and former great Stefan Edberg as coach.
Last season, he won five titles from 11 finals, took home more than $10m in prize money and won more matches (73) than any other player on Tour.
He posted 17 wins over top-10 players last year and has started the new season in the same vein, with two of his Brisbane opponents being touted as possible grand-slam champions of the future – No 11 Grigor Dimitrov and No 8 Milos Raonic.
Federer is in the best form of any of the Big Four .
“I do believe I have a shot in Melbourne,’’ Federer said.
“It’s just talk. I have to do the running, the clutch plays when it matters.”
At the Australian Open, Federer has 11 consecutive semi-final-or-better finishes since 2004. An 18th grand slam this time seems highly likely.
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