A Legacy Unveiled: Celebrating 20 Years of Roger Federer at the Summit

Roger Federer became world no. 1 for the first time on February 2, 2004

by Jovica Ilic
A Legacy Unveiled: Celebrating 20 Years of Roger Federer at the Summit
© Daniel Berehulak / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Two decades ago, Roger Federer started his reign on the ATP throne! The Swiss became the 23rd ATP no. 1 player on February 2, 2004, crowning his Australian Open title with a huge honor. Born in the early 1980s, Roger battled against other young guns like Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Andy Roddick.

While the mentioned players accomplished the ATP throne before Federer, the Swiss was ready to rule the tennis world from 2004, embracing four and a half years as world no. 1 and writing history. Roger reached back-to-back Major quarter-finals in 2001, stunning seven-time champion Pete Sampras at Wimbledon.

Roger Federer, Australian Open 2024© Nick Laham / Staff - Getty Images Sport

A year later, Federer lifted his first Masters 1000 title in Hamburg over Safin, earning enough ATP points to crack the top-10 the next day.

The Swiss enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2003, winning seven titles and clinching Wimbledon and the Masters Cup. Federer went to Gstaad right after Wimbledon and lost in the final to Jiri Novak. The young gun added 120 ATP points to his tally and earned a chance to become world no.

1 in the upcoming weeks. Federer stood one triumph away from the ATP throne at the Canada Masters in Montreal, falling to Andy Roddick in the semi-final and seeking another chance in Cincinnati a week later.

Roger Federer became world no.

1 after winning the 2004 Australian Open.

David Nalbandian prevented Roger's No. 1 coronation, edging the Swiss 7-6, 7-6 in two hours and six minutes. Federer finished the season ranked 2nd behind Andy Roddick despite winning the Masters Cup in Houston, preparing another assault for Melbourne 2004.

Marat Safin defeated Roddick, and Federer secured the ATP throne following the semi-final triumph over Juan Carlos Ferrero. Roger beat Marat in the title clash, claiming his second Major crown and becoming a well-deserved world no.

1 the next day. Federer distanced himself from all his rivals, claiming three Major titles in 2004 and defending the Masters Cup trophy to secure his first year-end no. 1 honor, with no one following his 11 ATP titles.

Roger Federer, Australian Open 2024© Adam Pretty / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal became Federer's closest rival in 2005.

However, the Swiss defended the ATP throne until August 2008, playing well on all three surfaces and dominating at Majors. Roger accumulated 237 consecutive weeks as world no. 1, setting the record that will take some beating in the future.

More importantly, Federer extended his incredible legacy and stayed competitive 15 years after becoming world no. 1, missing a massive chance against Novak Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final. Also, Roger battled for the ATP throne with Rafael Nadal a year earlier, notching his last world no.

1 week in June 2018, standing as the oldest top-ranked player in ATP history. The Swiss injured his knee early in 2020, and it ruined the end of his career. Roger made a comeback in 2021, reaching the Wimbledon quarter-final but ending his career after experiencing more issues with his knee.

Federer retired at the 2022 Laver Cup, gathering his greatest rivals and making a night to remember in London's O2 Arena.

Roger Federer