ATP Heritage

Federer On No. 1: 'I Decided I Would Like To Stay There'

The Swiss spent 310 weeks atop the PIF ATP Rankings

September 24, 2020
Roger Federer rose to World No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings for the first time after winning his maiden Australian Open trophy in 2004.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Roger Federer rose to World No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings for the first time after winning his maiden Australian Open trophy in 2004. By Tom Allen

As a part of a series highlighting all players to reach World No. 1, looks back on the career of Roger Federer.View Full List.

First week at No. 1: 2 February 2004
Total weeks at No. 1: 310
Year-End No. 1s: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009

At World No. 1
After lifting seven tour-level trophies in a breakthrough 2003 ATP Tour season, Federer claimed his maiden Australian Open title in 2004 to reach World No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings for the first time. The Swiss, who finished 2003 by lifting his first Nitto ATP Finals crown in Houston, leapfrogged Andy Roddick into the top spot and began a record 237-week reign on 2 February 2004. “You only become No. 1 in the world for the first time once,” said Federer. The Basel native captured 43 trophies — including 10 Grand Slam crowns — during his first spell at the top of the game. Federer has enjoyed five further stints at World No. 1, amassing a record total of 310 weeks in the top position. Between 2004 and 2009, Federer finished five of six ATP Tour seasons at the top of the PIF ATP Rankings. The 38-year-old owns a 301-45 record as World No. 1, which includes 35 titles from 50 tour-level championship matches.

Grand Slam Highlights
Federer owns the all-time Grand Slam titles record with 20 major championship victories. The Swiss captured his first Grand Slam trophy at the age of 21 at Wimbledon in 2003, beating Mark Philippoussis in straight sets in the final. Federer owns a record eight Wimbledon crowns, which includes five straight title runs from 2003 to 2007. The 6’1” right-hander is the only player to win more than 100 matches at multiple Grand Slam events, with 101 victories at Wimbledon and 102 wins at the Australian Open. Federer has lifted six titles from seven finals in Melbourne. Between 2004 and 2008, the 103-time tour-level titlist claimed five straight US Open trophies to equal Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras’ Open Era titles record at Flushing Meadows. Federer became the sixth man to complete the Career Grand Slam at Roland Garros in 2009, beating Robin Soderling in his fourth straight final appearance at the clay-court Grand Slam championship. “It was probably my greatest victory, I was under big pressure," said Federer. "I did it and it's phenomenal. It was great to be on the podium as a winner for a change.” Federer reached a record 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarter-finals between 2004 Wimbledon and 2013 Roland Garros.

<a href=''>Roger Federer</a> beats <a href=''>Marin Cilic</a> in straight sets to capture a record eighth Gentlemen's Singles title at <a href=''>Wimbledon</a>.

Nitto ATP Finals Highlights
Federer has won a record six Nitto ATP Finals trophies. The Swiss has lifted back-to-back titles at each of the tournament’s three most recent locations, winning in Houston (2003-’04), Shanghai (2006-’07) and London (2010-’11). Across those six tournament victories, Federer claimed the trophy with an undefeated 5-0 record five times. Federer also owns the record for most appearances (17) and match wins (59) at the event. "It is always one of the main goals to qualify for the year-end event,” said Federer. “I love competing there among the other top players.”

ATP Masters 1000 Highlights
Federer is third on the ATP Masters 1000 titles leaderboard with 28 crowns. The 38-year-old captured his maiden Masters 1000 trophy in Hamburg in 2002, beating Top 10 stars Gustavo Kuerten and Marat Safin en route to his first of four titles at the event. Federer’s most successful Masters 1000 event in terms of titles won is the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where he has lifted a tournament record seven crowns. With five trophies, Federer is also the joint titles leader at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells alongside Novak Djokovic. Federer has also won Masters 1000 titles in Miami, Madrid, Canada, Shanghai and Paris.

Biggest Rivalries
As a member of the ‘Big Three’, Federer has contested two major rivalries throughout his career on the ATP Tour.

With 40 Lexus ATP Head2Head clashes (Nadal leads 24-16), Federer and Rafael Nadal have captivated sports fans across the world since 2004 with their contrasting styles of play. Federer leads Nadal 11-9 in hard court meetings and owns a 3-1 advantage against the Spaniard on grass. Federer and Nadal’s rivalry continues to grow among fans and the media, as both players aim to add to their Grand Slam résumés. The two men currently occupy the top two positions in the Grand Slam titles leaderboard, with 20-time winner Federer narrowly ahead of 19-time major champion Nadal. Between 2005 and 2010, Federer and Nadal finished each ATP Tour season as the Top 2 players in the PIF ATP Rankings.

“I’m his No. 1 fan, I think his game is simply tremendous,” said Federer. “He’s an incredible competitor and I’m happy we’ve had some epic battles in the past.”

Federer has met Djokovic on 50 occasions during their ATP Head2Head rivalry (Djokovic leads 27-23). The 38-year-old notched 13 victories from 19 matches against the Serbian between 2006 to 2010, including a straight-sets triumph in the 2007 US Open final. With both players aiming to end their careers at the top of the Grand Slam titles leaderboard, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer currently leads third-placed Djokovic by three major crowns. Since 2003, Federer and Djokovic have captured a combined 14 Australian Open titles, 13 Wimbledon trophies and 11 Nitto ATP Finals crowns.

”[Djokovic] is a great, great player. We know that,” said Federer. “He makes you hit balls. He serves well, he returns well, he moves well. He’s mentally very tough. There’s so many things that can cover a problem, if there were one.”

Against his two main rivals, Federer has contested two of the greatest matches in Wimbledon history. The five-time year-end World No. 1 fell just short of a record-breaking sixth consecutive crown at SW19 in 2008, when Nadal survived two rain delays and fading light to claim his first title at the event with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 triumph.

Last year, Federer and Djokovic contested the longest Wimbledon final in history. Chasing a record-extending ninth trophy, Federer held two match points at 8-7, 40/15, in the deciding set. But Djokovic held his nerve under pressure and claimed his fifth Wimbledon title in a newly-implemented 12-12 tie-break. The Serbian completed a 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3) victory after four hours and 57 minutes.

<a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a> leads <a href=''>Roger Federer</a> 19-18 in hard-court encounters.

One of the greatest players in history, Federer has competed at the highest level in the sport for almost two decades. Federer has inspired both tennis fans and the latest generation of players throughout his career with his attacking game style, varied skillset and fluid movement. Less than seven years after Pete Sampras captured a then-record breaking 14th Grand Slam trophy at the 2002 US Open, the Swiss overtook the American’s mark at Wimbledon in 2009 and has held the top spot in the Grand Slam titles leaderboard ever since. Federer is in second place on the tour-level titles list, narrowly trailing top-placed Jimmy Connors (109) by six trophies. Federer also trails the American in the tour-level wins category, with 1242 victories compared to Connors’ 1274 wins. Alongside fellow ‘Big Three’ members Nadal and Djokovic, Federer has increased the popularity of tennis throughout his career and become one of the most recognisable faces in sport.

Overall Match Win-Loss Record: 1242-271
Overall Titles/Finals Record: 103-54

Memorable Moment
After missing the second half of the 2016 ATP Tour season to recover from left arthroscopic knee surgery, Federer made his return to the sport at the 2017 Australian Open as the No. 17 player in the PIF ATP Rankings. With lowered expectations, the 35-year-old beat Top 5 players Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka in five-set matches to book a final meeting against great rival Nadal. With Federer seeking his first major trophy since 2012 Wimbledon and Nadal aiming to add a first Grand Slam title to his collection since 2014 Roland Garros, the significance of the match was clear as both men attempted to add to their Grand Slam totals. “It has to be the most important match in Australian Open history and possibly Grand Slam history,” said Andy Roddick. Bidding to record his first Grand Slam victory against the Spaniard since the 2007 Wimbledon final, Federer played with consistent aggression on his backhand to turn the tables on his rival. The Basel native rallied from 1-3 down in the fifth set, winning five straight games to secure a memorable victory. After a Hawk-Eye challenge on championship point, Federer shook his arms in the air and jumped in celebration. “I’m out of words. I'd like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback. There are no draws in tennis, but I would have been very happy to accept one and share it with Rafa tonight,” said Federer.

Nadal on Federer
“It’s the combination of two different styles that makes the matches really special. Both of us have a different way to play tennis [and have] a lot of good success with these two different styles. I feel that this rivalry goes not only in the tennis world. People from outside of our world talk about it and that's good for our sport.”

Djokovic on Federer
“I have a tremendous respect for him and his game and what it presents to me. It's an incredible record, everything he has achieved, you come out on court playing probably the best player in the history of the game, it adds a little bit of pressure. But you can always give your best.”

Federer on Federer

“When I got to World No. 1, I started to really relax because I felt what I have achieved is almost everything I ever wanted. I had a choice, did I want to stay there or was I just happy to be there once? I decided I would like to stay there.”

Broadcaster/Journalist Graeme Agars
What can be said about Roger Federer that hasn’t already been said? His record speaks for itself; his sportsmanship is immaculate; his game classic and his off-court presence is a blessing for the sport in so many ways.

One aspect of his career that is perhaps underappreciated by fans is his congeniality with the press. It would be impossible to know the last time that he played a match and didn’t attend a press conference. He’s been asked every question under the sun – in English, French, German and Swiss German - but if he finds the process tedious, he doesn’t let on. I guess if you have to spend that much time in the press room, you may as well enjoy yourself.

He will of course share his thoughts on the match he has just played, but when he’s asked to comment on pressing tennis issues, his charity work, and other substantive issues, he’ll respond with thoughtful and respectful answers.

Many times, Federer does what few do: laugh. Mostly he seems a happy person and it doesn’t take much to tickle his sense of humour. He has the ability to make even a routine press conference worth watching. There isn’t a ranking for that, but if there was, he’d definitely Top 10.

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