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 who were there to compete against the "old school" masters like Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.
Safin won the US Open at the age of 20 and Hewitt became the youngest world number in history at the age of 20, and the tennis world only waited for Roger Federer to burst into the scene. The progress of the super talented Swiss was a little bit slower but steady as a rock, improving both the rankings and his game by each month spent on the Tour.
Roger won his first Masters 1000 title in Hamburg in 2002 and he entered 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, entering 2004 ranked second just behind Andy Roddick.
The gap was a small one and they were battling for the number 1 spot in the rankings already at the Australian Open. Marat Safin spoiled the American's plans and Roger conquered the ATP throne after a semi-final win over Juan Carlos Ferrero in straight sets.
Furthermore, the Swiss went all the way to win his first Australian Open title when he beat Safin in the final, achieving two great honors within a day. From February 2, 2004, Federer pretty much never looked back in the following four and a half years, standing alone at the top of the men's tennis world with only one serious rival who managed to dethrone him in the summer of 2008. With those 1000 points from Melbourne, Roger was now clear in front of Juan Carlos Ferrero and Andy Roddick and his consistency pay dividend, even though he still struggled to make an impact on the regular basis at Masters 1000 events.
He played 95 matches in 2003 but that number was reduced to 80 in 2004, winning 11 titles (including 3 Masters 1000 events) from 17 tournaments he entered and setting the bar too high for any of his followers. Mighty releaved after gaining that world number 1 spot as the 23rd player since 1973 who did 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 others before Nadal managed to improve his game outside clay to challenge Roger for that world number 1 spot that stayed in Roger's ownership for 237 consecutive weeks! 14 years after he became world number 1 for the first time Federer is on a verge of achieving that again in a close battle with Rafael Nadal, standing just 155 points behind the Spaniard and with a chance of passing him if he takes Dubai wild card at the end of February.
This is another solid proof of Roger's consistency and greatness even at the age of 36, looking to become by far the oldest player who sat on the ATP rankings throne (Agassi is the oldest world number 1 at the moment, reaching the top at the age of 33 in 2003). Milestone dates in Roger's early career linked with his ranking: