Roger Federer recalls: 'I was popular even when Martina Hingis was active'

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Roger Federer recalls: 'I was popular even when Martina Hingis was active'

Roger Federer made a name for himself as a junior in 1998, winning Wimbledon at 16 and wrapping up the season on the junior throne. In those years, Martina Hingis was the Swiss athlete to watch, achieving incredible things at such a young age and making Switzerland one of the leading tennis nations.

Still a teenager, Federer joined Martina on the big scene after advancing into the quarter-final at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2001, stunning the seven-time champion Pete Sampras in five sets at the All England Club. Roger cracked the top-10 a year later after the first Masters 1000 crown in Hamburg, hoping for another good run at Majors.

Instead of that, Federer lost ground in Paris and London and couldn't find his A-game by the end of the season, despite a solid year-end position.

Roger Federer spoke about Martina Hingis in Rome 2003.

Federer made a great start in 2003, scoring the most victories ahead of Indian Wells and playing on a high level on clay after conquering Munich and reaching the Rome final.

Asked about the national athlete of the year award after one of his wins in Rome, Federer admitted it isn't easy to earn it in Switzerland and that it's not among his prime targets. Also, he mentioned Martina Hingis, who had decided to retire from tennis, leaving Roger as the ultimate Swiss tennis star in those years.

"I don't know; every year, you have some guys who achieve something big, like Simon Ammann last year. Then you have the skiers who win races or World Cups. Maybe I'm the most popular Swiss athlete, but result-wise, I need to step it up in the big tournaments or the Davis Cup to be the year's sports athlete.

That's the reason I haven't achieved that yet in Switzerland. I've been second last year, third two years ago. Still, that's not the most important thing in life. I'm maybe getting more attention since Martina Hingis's retirement, but I was popular even when she was still active.

Also, my results helped me becoming more popular. My goals are higher than that. I mean, I hope I will get sports athlete of the year eventually if we have some guys who don't perform," Roger Federer said.