Roger Federer made a name for himself as a junior in 1998, winning Wimbledon at 16 and finishing the season on the youth 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 nations in tennis.
Still a teenager, Federer joined Martina on the big scene after advancing to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2001, surprising seven-time champion Pete Sampras in five sets at the All England Club. Roger reached the top 10 a year later after the first Masters 1000 crown in Hamburg, hoping for another h*t streak in Majors.
Instead, Federer lost ground in Paris and London and could not find his game A at the end of the season, despite a strong year-end position. Federer got off to a great start in 2003, scoring the most wins ahead of Indian Wells and playing at a high level on clay after conquering Munich and reaching the final in Rome.
When asked about the National Athlete of the Year award after one of his victories in Rome, Federer admitted that it is not easy to win it in Switzerland and that it is not one of his main goals. In addition, he mentioned Martina Hingis, who had decided to retire from tennis, leaving Roger as the top star of Swiss tennis in those years.
"I don't know; every year, there are some guys who achieve something great, like Simon Ammann last year. Then there are the skiers who win races or World Cups. I am perhaps the most popular Swiss athlete, but result- wise, I need to step up in the big tournaments or Davis Cup to be the sports athlete of the year."
Mischa Zverev praises Roger Federer
Mischa Zverev, currently No. 277 in the world, joked that he would like to see Roger Federer play forever and described the Swiss' comeback as "emotional and sensational."
"It's emotional, sensational, I feel like I've seen so many matches of Roger but every time he goes out there and I just took a picture of his interview, I just wish he would play forever," Zverev said.
"He's a sight you don't want to ever miss. It was really nice seeing him out there. It was very fast and he could create so much, it's like you said - I was in heaven as well!" Zverev added. "He would use so many different shots, he knows how to win a point 10 different ways and he was using all of them."