For the genuine – numbers don’t lie. Nor do they need to be twisted, analyzed or highlighted. Numbers rather become synonym with the legends and go down the history as milestones the fans remember and generations of sportspersons dream to come closer, if not emulate.
The greats create records. Beyond that greatness, there are Legends who accomplish feats and multiple records follow each of their achievement.
Tennis legend Roger Federer has yet again put on display what separates legends from greats. His overall supremacy is never questioned. He has reinforced dominance atop the ATP rankings.
In his return to the No. 1 position, Federer has created many records which may define a career span for most others. He has returned to the No. 1 position after five years and 106 days – many names would have emerged and disappeared on the ATP circuit during this span. There is a 14 years and 17 days gap between Federer first emerging at the top in 2004 and his fourth return to that position now – best of the best careers struggle to survive the rigours of ATP tour for such a long period. The return will mark his 303rd cumulative week as the No.1 ATP player – legends like Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl couldn’t touch the 300 mark, for many others, it will be a dream number even to achieve at their national domestic circuits.
At 36 years and 195 days, he eclipses by three years the record held by Andre Agassi as the oldest No.1 Agassi was 33 years and 4 months when he held the top spot in September 2003 – good one year before Federer first became the No. 1.
Federer had last held the top spot on 4 October 2012. Thereafter, he has climbed to the number two position every year but could never had a shot at the top position in ATP rankings, while injuries had pulled him down to as low as to the 16th and 17th position respectively in the past two calendar years. The Australian Open title triumph had placed a mere 155 points shy of top-ranked Rafael Nadal. The legend bridged that gap at Rotterdam.
The best on the court has also established a lead, to which only Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal appear to come closer, on the commercial and prize money charts. Djokovic and Nadal were still in their teens when Federer has become the No. 1 ATP player for the first time in his career on 17 August 2004.
Federer is the No. 1 tennis star, and fourth overall, in Forbes’ 2017 list of highest paid athletes. The year to come is only going to be better for the Swiss icon. For him the lead at the top is unassailable. The other four tennis aces to figure in the top 100 list don’t come closer to the legend.
The man with the golden arm is here to stay for a while. In his own words the Federer at 36 is better than the then 22-year-old Federer. After regaining the No. 1 position, Federer was asked to draw comparison between his 22-year-old self and present. The older version had the edge, was his reply. “I hope the 36-year-old me would win. We hit harder now, you have less time”.
The legend with the experience and skills of a 36-year-old – good enough to overpower the youthful exuberance of a 22-year-old champions – still has enough fuel to keep going as long as he is enjoying this epochal journey.