LONDON: After winning his 100th career title in Dubai at the weekend, Roger Federer has put his incredible longevity in tennis down to mental toughness, staying injury-free, a strong support network and a sprinkling of good fortune along the way.
Speaking in the aftermath of his landmark victory, the Swiss superstar called the achievement a “dream come true” and said he was feeling a “deep satisfaction” with the result.
“It was an immediate (satisfaction), because I know what it means. I like these type of numbers or records, to be quite honest.
“A lot of people always emphasize the Grand Slams and all these things, but I play on the ATP Tour, this is where I’ve won so many of them and been around for so long,” he said.
“I didn’t come expecting I was going to win, I hadn’t played since Australia. “I’m just happy on all fronts with how my game has progressed, how well I played in the finals, on top of it winning the eighth (in Dubai), winning the 100th, so many magical things going on,” he added.
The question on everybody’s lips now is whether or not he will overtake the great Jimmy Connor’s haul of 109 titles, a feat that Federer has called “extraordinary.”
“I know a lot of people always ask me: ‘Are you going to go for 109?’ but winning titles, to answer the question, is not easy.
“Winning five matches in six days or five matches in five days, it takes a different type of fitness.
“That’s why you have to be fit on many fronts — mentally, physically, also your game has to translate, you have to be able to beat different types of players.
“Not just the grinders, not just the big servers, not just the attacking players, you have to be able to beat them all in successive days,” Federer said.
The Swiss ace has been doing just that since he first burst on to the scene in 2001 by beating his idol Pete Sampras at Wimbledon. So how has he managed to maintain his position as one of the game’s greats for so long? “I think I needed to get really match tough to be able to be at 100 percent every single day, that was not easy for me, checking my emotions, that was not easy.
“Eventually I figured that part out. Just trying to understand how to play against types of players, I think that was a secret for me.
“Then saying injury-free, without being injury-free, you will never get to these amount of titles, I believe,” he said.
“I couldn’t have done it without a team. My team has been phenomenal throughout.
“I’ve been very fortunate, I’ve said that time and time again from my first coaches all the way through to today — I always had the right coaches always at the right time.”
Having finally achieved the century landmark, and Federer seemingly in the twilight of his career, questions are inevitably being asked about the future, but the world No. 7 says he has no plans of quitting just yet.
“I think every player has those weak five seconds where you think: ‘Really, how much more do I want to do?’ and it could be after losing an epic five-setter, it could be after playing a shocker, it could be sometimes after winning something, I think everybody goes through that.
“I didn’t see myself playing anywhere else but Dubai this week and I’m happy to come here again next year, I’ve enjoyed too much success.
“I like the tournament too much, so I will be here next year, I have a deal for next year.”