Former world number one Pete Sampras of USA hailed Swiss Maestro Roger Federer on breaking his record of staying at the world number ranking for most number of weeks.
During a recent interview, Sampras was asked about his thoughts on Federer breaking his record. The American said, “Great effort. The hardest thing to do in sports is the ability to stay on top. Roger has been able to do so by great play. He is durable.”
Sampras had broken Ivan Lendl’s record of 270 weeks back in 1999. The American held the top position for the last time from September 11, 2000 to November 19, 2000.
Few days before his feat getting equaled, Sampras had said that he was now used to Federer breaking his records. By winning the 2009 Wimbledon title, the Swiss Maestro had also broken Sampras’ all time record of 14 Grand Slams. Federer has now taken his Major tally to 17, far ahead of the reach of his current rivals. The Swiss legend has also equaled the American’s mark of seven Wimbledon titles.
The 30-year-old also holds the record for staying number one ranked tennis player for most consecutive weeks. Federer rose to the top of men’s ranking for the first time on February 2, 2004 and remained their unchallenged till August 17, 2008, spanning a total of 237 weeks. The second player on this list is Jimmy Connors with 160 weeks, which shows that none of the former top players ruled the tennis worlds as consistently as Federer.
However, the Swiss Maestro was replaced by King of Clay Rafael Nadal at the number one position on August 18, 2008. Federer reclaimed the top spot after winning the 2009 Wimbledon Championships and remained there for another 48 weeks.
The rivalry between the top two players of current times continued and when Federer was just one week away from his idol Sampras’ record of 286 week at the top spot, Nadal once again overtook the Swiss star to regain the top ranking.
Nadal held the top position for 56 weeks, getting replaced by the then unbeatable Novak Djokovic on July 4, 2011.
For two years, Federer remained just one week short of Sampras’ record of but the 30-year-old overtook the Serbian after capturing the Wimbledon title two weeks back, beating Great Britain’s best player Andy Murray in the final.
The Swiss star was sure to break Sampras’ record with no big event coming. The wait ended as new rankings were updated on Monday with Federer holding the highest ranking for the 287th week.
The Association of Tennis Professionals, which introduced the ranking system back in 1973 also hailed Federer on his achievement. Its statement said, “Congratulations Roger on your all-time record for most weeks as No. 1.”
Federer is regarded the best tennis player in the history of the sport by many experts and former tennis players. Some of his critics had written him off after Nadal and Djokovic started to rule the Grand Slams in recent times but the Swiss Maestro continued to hang on near them and waited for his chance.
The Basel, Switzerland resident shared after breaking his childhood hero’s record, “I had set a goal with my team to try and get back to the top of the rankings, but I never thought with the depth in the game this year that I would have been able to get it back so quickly.”
He added, “I am extremely proud and honored to have beaten Pete’s record as he was my childhood hero and I have always looked up to him.”
Federer will now try to win the only tennis title that has eluded him so far in his illustrious career, the Olympics Gold Medal in Singles event. The Swiss Maestro captured the Gold Medal in the doubles category at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but now he wants to grab the top honor.