Roger Federer breaks Pete Sampras’s record for weeks at No.1

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

Roger Federer is back at the top of the rankings once again. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

The Swiss Maestro Makes History

Week number 287 has started for Roger Federer and he is back at the top the rankings and he has achieved more than anybody would have imagined and perhaps his many achievements are not over yet. Federer has surpassed them all, even Pete Sampras who held the record at 286 weeks of dominating the tennis world.

The story changed for the first time on August 18th 2008, when he lost the top ranking after 237 weeks of uncontested rule: despite sporadic returns, it was from that moment that many began to consider his career to be at the beginning of a downturn that soon deprived his seasons of great tennis leaps which we had all become accustomed to. Too young, but also too powerful, were his rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, both strong from a physical standpoint and mentally. The Spaniard was the first to take hold of the reigns, then the Serbian repeatedly beat Nadal and took the No.1 spot for himself.

Rumours of Retirement

Roger Federer was wrongly labeled the “defeatist” after the Australian Open in 2010, the record-making man, Roger Federer, had not won any of the subsequent Grand Slams events for a while, giving the impression of not having enough energy on the courts.  The media focused positively on the two new tennis idols, and many were beginning to ask uncomfortable questions and some even suggested the imminent retirement of the Swiss star.  Meanwhile, his confidence continued to misfire, as admitted by Federer, despite keeping the desire to return to the top.

There is a big difference between saying the word ‘retirement’ and believing it as Roger Federer proved and thanks should be given to Paul Annacone, the coach of Federer who stayed with the Swiss during these times and has done a painstaking job.  A clear example of that was after Federer’s defeat in the semifinals of the U.S. Open against Novak Djokovic (another sign, according to many for the impending end of his career), but Roger returned to raise his voice with 63 matches won against only 6 defeats, he won his 20th Masters 1000 title and as a result accumulated 75 titles having won for the sixth time the World Tours Finals.

What should people make of his ‘comeback’? Federer has certainly raised the level of play in this last year, but it is undeniable that an accomplice of new youth with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic waiting in the wings are ready waiting for their next moment to strike.  They are both young and will be around in the future for some time, that’s for sure, but Djokovic has managed to establish his game during that wondrous season of “unbeatable tennis”, in which amongst other things he has spent a lot of energy, whilst the Spaniard has made his mark once again this year on the red clay.

What Next for Roger Federer?

Not only is it a “great achievement” to have returned to the top for Federer, but the incredible continuity in performance is something to be admired (33 consecutive Grand Slam quarter-finals are just one example). He is athletically fit and possesses a playing style that combines elegance with minimal exertion. This, in addition to luck, has allowed the Swiss to avoid serious injury, but has also helped him to play and still win even when not feeling physically at his best.

How long will Djokovic and Nadal be denied from the top spot? At the moment Federer is almost 31 years and will no doubt enjoy watching them from above, with the goal of becoming perhaps even the “oldest” to stay on top of everything (he needs to beat Andre Agassi who was No.1 at 33 years old).

Right now, however, Federer looks on to London, which will give him the chance to win the one thing he still lacks – the Gold medal – which as a man and sportsman, he would love to add this to his long list of achievements in history and he is ready to launch his assault on the Olympic Games.

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About Lisa-Marie Burrows

Lisa-Marie Burrows has a MA in Sports Broadcast Journalism and is a freelance sports journalist. She has covered many national and international tennis tournaments and has worked in Paris for Eurosport News channel. She is a member of the International Press Association and a journalist for its online magazine, IMPress. She has contributed articles for various leading websites including,,, and Lisa-Marie operates her tennis website where you can read her reports. She can be reached at or on Twitter @TennisNewsViews.

View all posts by Lisa-Marie Burrows


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