Roger Won't Chase No. 1, But It May Come To Him

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Let’s be clear about one thing: While Roger Federer would welcome a thoroughly unexpected return to the top of the Emirates ATP Rankings, he has no interest in grinding his way back to World No. 1.

At 35, No. 1 is not the priority. Physically and mentally, it can’t be. Winning Grand Slams and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, leading a balanced family life and staying healthy and motivated is what’s most important to the Swiss, who holds the record for spending 302 weeks at the top spot.

Andre Agassi (33 years, 4 months) was the oldest man to reign as World No. 1. Federer, who was last No. 1 in October 2012, would be more than two years older than the American should he reclaim top spot later this year.

After sweeping the March Masters at the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open presented by Itau, Federer said that he would likely shut it down this month and next before returning for Roland Garros (beginning 28 May). Currently 1,810 points clear of second-placed Rafael Nadal in the calendar-year Emirates ATP Race To London (a predictor of the year-end rankings), Federer’s sabbatical will see the Spaniard cut or possibly wipe out the Swiss’ lead in the Race during the clay swing.

ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert, a former World No. 4 and a winner of 20 titles, says, “Right now Fed’s got a better than 50 percent chance of finishing the year No. 1. When you look at how far Djoker and Murray are behind, I think it’s going to come down to Roger and Rafa.

“Roger has finished the year No. 1 five times and in four of those five times he’s left Miami first in the Race. He told me after the match that he’s not 24 anymore and that possibly he’ll only play the French. That’s three Masters 1000s out of the way, but he can finish No. 1 if he wins one of the last three majors, which is certainly possible. He belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of the seven greatest athletes of all time, along with Michael Jordan and Tom Brady.”

Federer told Gilbert and ESPN viewers on court that he was “focussing on the French, the grass and then the hard courts is going to be the key for me. And if things happen for World No. 1 that would be great, but I still believe I’m a long way away.”

 Watch Full Match Replays

Year-by-Year Emirates ATP Race To London Leaders After Miami

In eight of the previous 13 years, the player who was the Race leader after Miami went on to finish the season No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Current Race points leader Roger Federer has finished No. 1 five times and on four occasions he was the Race leader after Miami.

                                               Points                   Year-end No. 1 (Position after Miami)
2017 – Roger Federer             4,045                           ?
2016 – Novak Djokovic            4,340                     Andy Murray (No. 3)
2015 – Novak Djokovic            4,385                     Djokovic
2014 – Novak Djokovic            2,690                     Djokovic
2013 – Novak Djokovic            2,990                     Rafael Nadal (No. 2)
2012 – Novak Djokovic            3,540                     Djokovic
2011 – Novak Djokovic            4,725                     Djokovic
2010 – Andy Roddick              2,450                     Rafael Nadal (No. 6)
2009 – Rafael Nadal                3,605                      Roger Federer (No. 3)
2008 – Novak Djokovic             331 #                    Rafael Nadal (No. 2)
2007 – Roger Federer              276 #                     Federer
2006 – Roger Federer              492 #                     Federer
2005 – Roger Federer              450 #                     Federer
2004 – Roger Federer              379 #                     Federer

# Points based on old system

Later, in his press conference, Federer expanded on his goals for the rest of the season, saying, “Wimbledon has to be the biggest goal… but all of the grass really is important to me because I’ll play Stuttgart and Halle there, too. Then of course I am looking very good for the [ATP] Finals, for the year-end championships, where I’ve been very successful. I like the indoors as well. So for me basically the second half of the season is a big priority now. That’s why I’ll take a break.”

Federer has opened a significant gap on the rest of the field in the Emirates ATP Race To London after winning the three biggest titles so far this year: The Australian Open and ATP World Tour Masters 1000s in Indian Wells and Miami. At the beginning of the season it looked like Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray would battle each other for No. 1, especially after they played an epic final in Doha in the first week of the season.

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