Roger Federer started off the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals with a roaring success. In 88 minutes, he dispatched Milos Raonic with a score of 6-1, 7-6(0) in the first match of the 2014 season finale.
Federer is hoping to set a new record — a seventh title — with his stay at London’s The O2. He’s also trying to get back into World No. 1 position on the Emirates ATP Rankings, a goal which is “very special” to the legendary player.
If he could get back up into World No. 1 position once more, “that would be very special,” Federer has said. To him it means far more than ordinary titles, since winning a tournament is a matter of one or two weeks but World No. 1 represents an entirely different level of achievement. Of course, to achieve his goal Federer will have to surpass Novak Djokovic to do it.
Djokovic represents the main obstacle in Federer’s way to the top at the moment. If Federer wants to add on to his record of 302 weeks at the top of the ATP World Tour rankings and potentially finish the year as No. 1 (which would tie Sampras for a sixth-time record) he can only do this by wrestling the Serbian off his current throne. Playing a perfect week in the season finale is key to the 33 year old Federer’s chances at doing this.
The Swiss tennis legend talked about his epic clashes on the court with Djokovic throughout the years in a recent interview, discussing how they fit in with the other famous rivalries he’s seen throughout his career. If Federer and Djokovic meet later this week, it will be their 37th encounter in a FedEx ATP Head2Head match, as well as their third straight year doing so during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Federer commented that playing against Djokovic is, to him, nice. “I really enjoy playing against him,” Federer noted, praising how it feels like the rivalry is very evenly matched. To Federer it feels like he ends up playing Djokovic more frequently in semifinals than in final matches, though he isn’t actually sure if that’s true.
Federer notes that he feels a special connection to Rafael “Rafa” Nadal Parera, who is currently ranked No. 3 in the world, simply because Federer and Rafa had such an intense rivalry over the years, notably beginning in 2004. Federer and Rafa tended to meet in slam finals, which hasn’t so much been the case with other players.
At the same time Federer always likes looking back to see who his tougher opponents were when coming up the ranks. When he was getting started, Federer says he struggled to best players like Nalbandian, Henman, Roddick, and Hewitt. For him, “Those were really interesting players to play against,” he says. He also got to meet Andre Agassi on the court, thanks to Agassi’s long career — Federer believes he played Agassi 14 or 15 times. You can watch the best tennis matches here to see some of Federer’s successes.
At the moment, Federer is in the middle of starting a new rivalry against Kei Nishikori. The two Group B leaders will face off in the Tuesday day session at The O2. The winner of the match will have taken a significant step forward towards qualifying for the World Tour semi-finals.