Johannesburg - The man of the moment in tennis circles is none other than Roger Federer – one of the greatest tennis players in history and the record-breaking holder of 18 Grand Slam singles titles.
Federer has had an excellent run this year, claiming top honours at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 at Indian Wells two weeks ago – in the process beating his biggest rival, Rafael Nadal.
Federer remains on course for the winner’s podium at the Miami Open, which finishes on Sunday.
Second oldest man
In January, he won the Australian Open, also defeating his Spanish nemesis Nadal in the final.
The Swiss is yet to lose a match this year as he continues his impressive run.
The 35-year-old was thought to be finished and his name was fading in the tennis world, but after five years without a Grand Slam victory, as well as a season sidelined by injury and his world ranking down to number 17, he has risen like the mythical phoenix.
The five-time US Open champion did the unexpected by becoming a champion again.
Federer became the second oldest man to reach a major final – surpassed only by Australia’s Ken Rosewall (39) at the 1974 US Open – and he is the oldest man to win a Grand Slam in more than 40 years.
He is now ranked sixth in the world.
The 2009 French Open Champion’s victories at the Australian Open and Indian Wells have restored faith that he could recapture the world number one position, a goal that will be strengthened if he reaches and wins the Miami Open final on Sunday, where Andy Murray (ranked number one) and Novak Djokovic (number two) are notable absentees as they both have elbow injuries.
Federer has not topped the rankings since 2012, but says his focus is not rankings, but titles.
Defeated now retired
He told Sky Sports: “I understand the talk of world number one, so I will try to back it up with a good tournament. I think I’m definitely doing a few things better than I ever have. I do feel that I have improved. The game has evolved – I had to adjust – but, overall I do believe I’m probably a better player than I was 10 years ago.”
Federer hasn’t won the Miami Open in 11 years. He last won when he defeated now retired Croatian Ivan Ljubicic in 2006. With the way the five-time Australian Open champion is playing these days, that may change.
Is this Federer’s year or will the injuries start creeping in again?
“I just have to be a bit more clever in terms of scheduling overall. Unfortunately, I can’t do it all [play all games],” he told Tennis World Magazine. Only time will tell if Federer will be able to regain the number one spot at his age. He will play Nadal on Sunday.