Like an ageing wine, Roger Federer continues to defy the ageing process when working various angles of a tennis court. And the 35-year-old is nowhere near the finish line, setting himself a new target of reclaiming the World No. 1 ranking after capturing the Indian Wells title in convincing fashion on Sunday. After starting the new season at No. 17, Federer has now risen to No. 6 in the ATP Tour World Rankings.
At the start of the year, Federer returned to competitive tennis after a lengthy break, fuelling speculation that his retirement was around the corner. Following his semi-final loss to Canadian Milos Raonic at last year's Wimbledon, Federer took an indefinite break from the sport to recover from the arthroscopic knee surgery he underwent last February. At the time, several pundits wrote off Federer and never expected the Swiss master to compete for ATP Tour titles, let alone Grand Slams, for the remainder of his career.
If anything, Federer has been the best player in the ATP circuit since the start of the 2017 season. After his remarkable 2017 Australian Open victory, albeit aided by early upsets suffered by top seeds Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, Federer is already viewed as one of the favourites at this year's Wimbledon. With Djokovic and Murray ruling themselves out of next week's Miami Open due to various injuries, Federer is the prohibitive favourite to capture another ATP Masters event -- which will help him rise in the rankings.
Roger Federer is nowhere near the finish line
"I'd love to be world No. 1 again. But anything else for me is not interesting. So that's why the rankings is not a priority right now. It's totally about being healthy, enjoying the tournaments I'm playing and trying to win those," Federer told reporters after his 6-4, 7-5 over Stan Wawrinka Sunday which gave him his record-tying fifth BNP Paribas Open title.
Since Federer is able to pick-and-choose events from the packed ATP calendar, giving his knees sufficient rest at regular intervals, he should be primed to play at a high level during the grass court season this summer. "What I don't want to do is overplay...and just get tired of travelling and tired of just playing tournaments and just entering and, I don't know, just doing people a favour just to be there with no aspirations. That's not why I'm playing," the Swiss master said Sunday, via ESPN.
At 35 years and 7 months, Roger Federer also became the oldest player to win an ATP Masters 1000 title Sunday with his record-tying fifth Indian Wells championship. With 90 career ATP titles, Federer is now third on the all-time list behind Jimmy Connors (109) and Ivan Lendl (94) for most championships in the Open era. A potential Miami Maters title will leave him just three shy of Lendl's 94 titles.