Swiss Maestro Roger Federer has acknowledged that his closest rivals were ahead of him at the start of his career. Now one of the best players in the history of the sport Federer thinks that Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, Andy Roddick and Tommy Haas performed better than him back at that time.
Talking to the media people in an interview, the 30-year-old said, "We had an extremely strong generation of players when I was coming along with Hewitt and Safin and Roddick and Ferrero and Tommy Haas."
Safin went ahead all of these players as he won the US Open crown in 2000, racing to the number position in the world tennis rankings.
Hewitt also did not leave much behind, becoming the youngest player to finish the year as world number one at the age of 20 in 2001. The Australian won US Open in 2001 and captured Wimbledon title in 2002. Federer had lost all of his first seven meetings against Hewitt on the ATP World Tour.
Haas followed these stars and rose to the number two spot in the ATP Rankings in 2002. Ferrero and Roddick also held top ranking for a short period in 2003.
Federer added, "You name it, there were so many good players that it think pushed me to just hang with them first of all, not even be the best of that group because I was clearly not.”
The Swiss star went on to say, "So I think that really paved the way for me to always strive for more, push for more, keep working hard at myself in practice and then finally become a true professional, which finally I did understand in my early 20s.”
Federer made his breakthrough by beating Australia’s Mark Philippoussis in the 2003 Wimbledon final to win his first Grand Slam title. The Swiss Maestro, however, completely dominated the sport of tennis in the following four years.