How great Fed­erer stacks up as he eyes 100th ti­tle

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY SCOTT HUNT BY DAVID KELLY

ROGER Fed­erer heads to Lon­don’s 02 Arena this week at­tempt­ing to seal the 100th sin­gles ti­tle of his ca­reer. The Swiss star will be among the favourites at the sea­son-end­ing event as he bids for a cen­tury of ATP Tour crowns.

Here, we look at where Fed­erer’s haul puts him in re­la­tion to other greats of the game and re­flect on some of the mile­stones of his ca­reer.

First ti­tle on the board

Fed­erer’s first ATP Tour suc­cess came back in 2001 at an in­door tour­na­ment in Mi­lan.

The then 19-year-old, who was seeded sev­enth for that tour­na­ment, de­feated French­man Julien Bout­ter in the fi­nal to claim his first ti­tle.

It was an event that in­cluded the likes of Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafel­nikov, so victo- ry rep­re­sented a big step in the ca­reer of the promis­ing young Swiss.

Ma­jor break­through

Fed­erer re­ally caught the eye at Wim­ble­don later that year. He came up against four-time de­fend­ing cham­pion Pete Sam­pras in the last 16 and tri­umphed in a five-set epic. His tour­na­ment ended in the quar­ters with de­feat to Bri­tain’s Tim Hen­man.

But it was clear that Fed­erer was a player to watch and he be­gan to rack up the tour ti­tles. Three came in 2002 and he bagged seven more in 2003 — in­clud­ing his first Grand Slam at Wim­ble­don.

Vic­tory in the fi­nal over Aus­tralia’s Mark Philip­pous­sis set Fed­erer on a run of dom­i­nance at SW19 that would see him win five Wim­ble­don ti­tles in a row — a run ended by Rafael Nadal in 2007 in ar­guably the great­est fi­nal of all time.

Fed­erer sur­passed Pete Sam­pras’ tally of Grand Slam wins at Wim­ble­don in 2009 and would break the Amer­i­can’s Wim­ble­don record by win­ning his eighth ti­tle there in 2017.

The Aus­tralian Open at the start of 2018 was his 20th Grand Slam ti­tle and the 96th sin­gles ti­tle of his ca­reer.

Fed­erer turned 37 in Au­gust, with to­tal ca­reer prize money of over $118mil­lion to his name, but he has shown no sign of stop­ping yet.

Where does Fed­erer stand

on the all-time list?

Re­mark­ably, 99 ti­tles is only enough to claim sec­ond place on the all-time list of sin­gles win­ners in the men’s game.

Jimmy Con­nors tops that list with his in­cred­i­ble haul of 109 ti­tles, the last of which came in Tel Aviv in 1989. The Amer­i­can, who won eight Grand Slams, was at his most pro­duc­tive in 1976, rack­ing up an as­ton­ish­ing 12 ti­tles.

Ivan Lendl is third with 94 ti­tles, while one of Fed­erer’s big­gest ri­vals Rafael Nadal sits fourth.

Nadal cur­rently has 80 sin­gles ti­tles to his name, in­clud­ing 11 French Open wins and, aged just 32, could con­ceiv­ably move up the list in years to come.

John McEn­roe com­pletes the top five, with 77 sin­gles ti­tles.

What chance does he have of beat­ing Jimmy Con­nors’ record?

Fed­erer is cur­rently 10 adrift of Con­nors’ haul. The Swiss has sur­prised many with his longevity and he ap­pears to be as fit and as in form as he has ever been.

That said, he would likely need to play on at the top level for an­other few years to edge ahead of Con­nors in the stand­ings.

He claimed seven ti­tles in 2017 but has just the four so far this year. At that rate, if Fed­erer is able to main­tain the stan­dard he con­tin­ues to set, it would take an­other cou­ple of sea­sons to get close to the 109 ti­tles.

For the last cou­ple of years Fed­erer has also cho­sen to skip the en­tire clay court sea­son to fo­cus on other sur­faces and, un­der­stand­ably, does not en­ter as many tour­na­ments as he used to.

While no­body would be fool­ish enough to sug­gest Fed­erer will not make it past 109, Con­nors can breathe fairly eas­ily for now.

How likely is Fed­erer to get his

100th ti­tle in Lon­don?

Fed­erer is seeded sec­ond for the ATP Tour Fi­nals fol­low­ing the with­drawal of Nadal. He will, as al­ways, en­ter as one of the favourites al­though No­vak Djokovic will be the man to beat on the hard court — es­pe­cially hav­ing de­feated Fed­erer at the re­cent Paris Mas­ters.

Such is the na­ture of the beast with the sea­son-end­ing Tour Fi­nals, the best play­ers in the world are com­pet­ing, mak­ing life es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult for Fed­erer.

He has been drawn into the Lley­ton He­witt group along­side Kevin An­der­son, Kei Nishikori and Do­minic Thiem.

Fed­erer, who has won two ATP Fi­nals ti­tles, will ex­pect to at least reach the lat­ter stages once again RYAN Bur­nett has re­ceived a ma­jor boost as his back in­jury is nowhere near as bad as first thought and a re­turn to the ring in 2019 is ex­pected.

Af­ter los­ing his WBA World ban­tamweight ti­tle last Satur­day night when re­tir­ing at the start of the fifth round due to what was a slipped disc, it has been learned that the Belfast man tore a mus­cle.

In a state­ment on so­cial me­dia, Bur­nett said: “I am ab­so­lutely gut­ted not to be World Cham­pion. This sce­nario was to­tally out of my con­trol, but I un­der­stand in­jury is the dif­fi­cult part of sport­ing life.

“My as­sess­ments have been com­pleted, and di­ag­nosed that I have torn mus­cle fi­bres in my right in­ter­nal oblique, where a por­tion of the mus­cle has also de­tached from the bone where it in­serts.

“This is not a ca­reer-end­ing in­jury, but it is one that will re­quire in­ten­sive treat­ment and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. I will pick my­self up, make my­self strong again, and get back to where I be­lieve I be­long, as cham­pion of the World.”

Mean­while, Tony Bellew claims he would have been “haunted” had he turned down tonight’s clash with undis­puted world cruis­er­weight cham­pion Olek­sandr Usyk.

Bellew said: “If it was about money I could have fought a much lesser fighter and earned much more. I took this fight — it is the big­gest chal­lenge of my life.”

Grand feel­ing: Roger Fed­erer sets a new Grand Slam record haul at Wim­ble­don in 2009 while (in­set, far left) win­ning his first in 2003 and (in­set, left) win­ning his 20th Ma­jor at theAus­tralian Open in Jan­uary

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