The future of tennis looked very promising at the beginning of the new millennium, with the players like Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Andy Roddick and Roger Federer challenging the "old school" masters like Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.
Safin claimed the US Open crown at the age of 20 and Hewitt became the youngest world no. 1 in history also at the age of 20, with Roger Federer who was yet to burst onto the scene and make a name for himself. The progress of the super talented Swiss was a little bit slower but steady as a rock at the same time, improving both his game and ranking position by each month spent on the Tour and starting to battle for the notable titles.
Roger won his first Masters 1000 title in Hamburg 2002 to enter the top-10 for the first time on the next day, never leaving that group between October 2002 and November 2016! Federer made a breakthrough season in 2003, winning seven titles, including his first Major at Wimbledon and Masters Cup, heading into 2004 ranked second, just behind Andy Roddick.
The gap between two youngsters was not that big and they were battling for the leading spot already at the Australian Open when Marat Safin spoiled the American's plans, leaving Roger to claim the ATP throne after the semi-final victory over Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Furthermore, the Swiss went all the way to win his first Australian Open title after beating Safin in the final, achieving two significant honors within a day. On February 2, 2004, Federer became the dominant figure on the Tour for the following four and a half years, standing at the top of the men's tennis world with only one serious rival who would manage to dethrone him in the summer of 2008.
With those 1000 points from Melbourne, Roger was now firmly in front of Juan Carlos Ferrero and Andy Roddick, forging the gap over the closest rivals even though he was still struggling to find consistency at the Masters 1000 level.
Roger played 95 matches in 2003, reducing the number to 80 in 2004, winning 11 titles (including three Masters 1000 events) from 17 tournaments and raising the bar too high for any of his followers. Mighty relieved after gaining that world no.
1 spot as the 23rd player since 1973 to achieve that, Roger transformed himself into a machine that was always ready to give its best on the court, picking his schedule carefully and staying miles in front of all the opponents.
The Swiss was the player to beat for 237 consecutive weeks before the summer of 2008 when Nadal dethroned him after four and a half years, improving his game outside clay to match Roger's performance. More than 14 years after becoming the best player in the world, Federer was able to repeat that in 2018, fighting for the throne with Rafael Nadal just like more than a decade ago and securing ranking age records that will take some beating.
At the age of 38, Federer is still among the best players in the world, advancing into the semi-final at the ATP Finals in November and this week at the Australian Open, ready to challenge much younger opponents and stay in the top-10 as long as possible.