Federer ties SA's Ferreira
Cape Town - Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has equalled a Grand Slam record which was held by former South African No 1, Wayne Ferreira.
Federer, 32, on Tuesday equalled Ferreira's record of playing in 56 consecutive Grand Slams when he defeated Slovenia's Grega Zemlja in the first round of the US Open.
The Swiss player, who also holds the record for most Grand Slam titles won (17), has had a troublesome year which has seen him slide to No 7 in the ATP world rankings.
Federer entered the US Open with his lowest ranking position at Flushing Meadows since 2002, boasting only one tournament win this year at a low-key grass-court event in Halle, Germany.
He also suffered a shock second-round loss at Wimbledon in June - his earliest Grand Slam exit since winning his first major title there in 2003.
Federer's recent dip in form has left many questioning how long he could stay competitive at the summit of the game - as 32 is considered "old" in tennis terms.
However, Federer insists he has no plans to retire and in a recent interview claimed his slide in the rankings was not a worry.
"What's important is that I concentrate on my game and that the passion is there, that I work the right way, that I'm prepared, and then that I feel like I can win a tournament. Then the ranking actually itself is secondary," he was quoted as saying before the US Open.
Federer has on a few occasions stated he would like to compete until the Rio Olympics in 2016, and while that may be a long shot, he is sure to at least break Ferreira's major streak as soon as January next year at the Australian Open, which would just add to another long list of records for the former world No 1, who has now played every Grand Slam since the 2000 Australian Open.
Ferreira, who retired in 2005, was himself an accomplished player who reached a career-high ranking of No 6 in the world in 1995.
The now 41-year-old Ferreira participated in 56 consecutive Grand Slams between the 1991 Australian Open and the 2004 US Open, with his best major results coming at the Australian Open - where he reached the semi-finals twice in 1992 and 2003.
Ferreira also won a silver medal in doubles with Pietie Norval at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.