On February 4, 2001, exactly twenty years ago, a not yet twenty-year-old Roger Federer won his first ATP tournament. A date that would later become historic, considering the career of the Swiss champion, and in fact today we celebrate his anniversary.
At the Milan Indoor, 19-year-old Federer defeated Frenchman Julien Boutter in three sets - 6-4 6-7 (7) 6-4 the score - thus winning the first international tournament. Five months later, Federer would defeat the great Pete Sampras on the Wimbledon lawn, in another match that would go down in history as the seal of the generational change between the two greatest interpreters of modern tennis.
Federer, now 39, boasts 103 victories in the ATP circuit including 20 Grand Slams and 5 Atp Finals. In addition, he won a Davis Cup with Switzerland and the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics. An immense career, built year after year, whose first brick was laid twenty years ago on a Milan pitch.
Roger Federer on his first ATP title
“I’ve had to wait a long time for this moment,” Roger Federer said after earning $54,000 for the win. “It should get easier from here on out”. He was clearly a future star, but no one was sure when that future would arrive.
“I didn't come in [to the match] thinking I was going to win the title, but I knew I was playing well indoors,” Federer said of that first title in 2001. He recalled near misses in 2000, losing in a third-set tie-break to Marc Rosset in the final of what’s now called the Open 13 Provence in Marseille and a tough five-setter to Thomas Enqvist in the final of the Swiss Indoors Basel.
“I played amazing against Enqvist and ended up losing … so I thought, ‘Oh, God here we go. I'm never going to win a tournament,’" Federer said. "And then when I won Milan, obviously I was extremely relieved and just very happy.
I played great. It was a big moment for me”. Roger Federer is often regarded as one of the most well-spoken sportspersons in the world, with many journalists commending his remarkable public relations skills. The 39-year-old is often diplomatic with his words, but that adds to his positive image too; by refusing to take sides in controversial matters, he is always in the good books of everyone.
It also helps that Roger Federer is fluent in several languages, including French, English, Swiss-German and German. Federer can also hold a conversation in Afrikaans, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.