“Sure it is challenging (to get back to number one). It is going to be very difficult because Rafa is playing well,” Federer said on Friday.
“It’s not something I have in mind right now. The goal is to play well here in London and prepare for next season and hopefully at some stage get it back.
“If not then I will focus on just winning tournaments. That is something I like doing as well!
“I have Australia to defend first. Rafa has no points to defend here, that’s why things look very good for him for the next few months.”
The gap in the rankings between Roger and Nadal is currently about 4000 points. Roger has closed the gap of late, but it’s a bit of a shame he couldn’t win Paris and pick up another 650 points. All in all you’d have to say he has done well since Wimbledon though. At least he has given himself a chance of getting back the number one ranking next year, just to beat that illusive record amount of weeks at the number one spot of Sampras. There is a total of 1100 points up for grabs for Roger if he wins the Masters cup without losing a match. Nadal on the other hand can gain the maximum of 1500 points if he wins the event without losing a match, since he is defending no points after losing all his matches last year. I think Nadal will make at least semi’s, which means he will pick up at least 400 points here.
If Roger can gain any points on Nadal in London it would be a big bonus. Nadal can open the gap between them even further next year at the Australian Open. In fact he is almost certain to do so. If Nadal wins Australia it would be almost impossible for Roger to catch him again. Preferably Roger must defend his title there, in which case Nadal will still probably open up the gap between them. If Roger defends Australia, he will have his chances during the clay and grass court seasons to pass Nadal in the rankings. The number one spot is not massively important though, and Roger realizes that. He is relaxed about it, at he should be. He has already made Sampras’ achievements look almost average compared to what he has achieved in the game. Every other record of Sampras that he breaks now is just gravy.
The other record of Sampras that he can at least still equal, is the amount of Wimbledon titles won at seven. The amount of years ended as number one will also be tough to equal, but not impossible. He would have to win at least two slams next year to do that. Roger is now at a stage of his career where there are many records beckoning. Not that he needs to get them. He has already set stunning records like the 23 consecutive grand slam semis and five consecutive titles at two different slams, which may never be broken. If he wins Australia next year he will have won five titles at three different slams which would be insane. He then would also have been the first man to win five Australian Open titles. If he wins one more US Open he will become the first man to win six US Open titles.
It is a fun time in his career because every slam title he adds will be monumental. Personally I don’t really mind which slam title he wins from here on. I have already stated why winning the Australian, Wimbledon and the US Open would be significant. If he wins the French Open it would be significant because it would reinforce that the 2009 title was not a fluke, and give him a second career slam. So while a lot of people are dreading the fact that Roger is in decline, I’d like to look at it from the point of view that a very interesting time lies ahead. Of course things are not getting easier with Nadal dominating and Djokovic and Murray pushing as well, but that makes it fun. Every slam he wins from here on is one less that these guys wins and will be a record breaker. Also, Roger has had good results since starting to work with Annacone.
Darren Cahill has said that he can see the positive influence that Annacone has had on Roger’s game. He has also said that he believes Roger’s best is still ahead of him. Now while that is obviously a far-fetched statement, Darren Cahill is a very respected tennis analyst, and what he is saying is at least a very positive thing for Roger’s future. A lot of people are all too ready to write Roger off. You just can’t write a guy who is as experienced and as optimistic as Roger off. I mean the guy has basically nothing to lose. He has done it all. He now plays only for fun and therefor with abandon. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win more slams. The number one ranking is secondary to winning slams. If he wins slams the ranking will follow. But if it does not, it doesn’t matter much anyway. Adding more slams was and is always the most important thing, and it will stay that way.