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On this day: Roger Federer joins the elite for the first time

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Just a couple of Roger Federer made the first significant steps on the professional Tour back in 1998, reaching the quarter-final at the ATP tournament in Toulouse to crack the top-400 at the age of 17. With notable results on the Satellite Tour, Roger finished the season just outside the top-300, with plenty more to come in 1999 when he grabbed 13 ATP wins and a Challenger title in Brest, becoming the force to be reckoned with on the Tour.

The super talented Swiss found the way to enter the top-30 already in 2000 after 36 triumphs on the main level and two ATP finals, boosting his confidence and feeling ready to make that final push and hit the top-10 charts sometime in 2001.

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Federer claimed 49 victories that season and found himself in the top-15 already in June before missing all the action between Gstaad and the US Open due to a groin injury, unable to earn more points and book a place among the world’s elite ten players.

Nonetheless, Federer was closing the gap in the first half of 2002, losing in the final in Miami to Andre Agassi and conquering the first Masters 1000 title in Hamburg, earning 500 points and making a top-10 debut on May 20, still at 20.

After early exits in Monte Carlo and Rome, the Swiss played on a high level in Hamburg, ousting Gustavo Kuerten in the quarter-final and toppling his good friend Max Mirnyi to secure the place in the title match against Marat Safin.

Roger grabbed a 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 victory in just over two hours to earn those 500 points and find himself in the elite group for the first time after spending almost a year between positions 11 and 15. As we all know, the rest is pretty much history, with the Swiss clinching numerous ranking records and spending mind-blowing 908 weeks in the top-10 so far!

After winning the Vienna title in October 2001, Federer was back inside the top-10 and would stay there for 14 straight years or 734 weeks, dropping out following a knee injury in 2016. Twelve weeks later, Roger was among the best players again.

He won the Australian Open next January and remained in the elite ever since, despite being one of the oldest players in the ATP ranking. Just a couple of months before his 39th birthday, Federer is still among the players to beat, earning four titles in 2019 and reaching the semi-final at the Australian Open this January, undergoing knee surgery two weeks later and hoping to get back on the court as soon as the coronavirus allows the action.

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‘Novak Djokovic has a big chance to get back in the Grand Slam race,’ says analyst

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The Australian Open will provide Novak Djokovic with ‘a big chance’ to get him back into the Grand Slam race, says Radmilo Armenulić.

The world number one lost ground to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros earlier this month with the Spaniard beating him in the final to win his 20th Grand Slam and draw him level with Roger Federer on the all-time list.

Djokovic, by comparison, is on 17, but he has a supreme record in Melbourne, and former Serbia Davis Cup captain Armenulić has warned against writing him off just yet.

“There are many stories that the Grand Slam will not be played in Australia, which is Novak’s great chance for a new, 18th Grand Slam title, which would completely return him to the race,” Armenulić told alo.rs.

“If the tournament still takes place, which we all hope, the least Novak will do is settle with Federer in terms of the number of weeks at the top of the ATP list.

“Nole is already warming up for such a scenario, I see that he will play in Vienna, win that tournament and calmly wait for the end of the season.

“I am sure that Novak has already recovered from the crisis, while Nadal will only be able to endanger him at the Masters in Paris.”

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