In the tennis world, it's a bit unusual to see legend Roger Federer not have a No. 1 or No. 2 near his name at Grand Slams. For someone who has been the top figure of the game for so long, his dominance was still there, but two men stood in his way in Grand Slams.
Those two men were Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Nadal has been Federer's nemesis in grand slams, especially on clay and in the French Open. Djokovic had the season of his life in 2011. These two men have dominated the grand slam finals from last year's Wimbledon to the Australian Open in January.
Federer recaptured the No. 2 ranking last week in Madrid. This means that he can avoid top-seeded Djokovic and potentially Nadal until the French Open finals. And as many tennis fans know, Federer would prefer to see Djokovic on the opposing side rather than arguably the best clay court player of all time.
Obviously, Federer doesn't prefer the clay as he does a grass court surface or the hard courts. He's only won the French Open once against Robin Soderling. The way Federer plays in grand slams, however, is of high quality tennis. His consecutive record of 31 Grand Slam quarterfinals is still intact. Federer's seen 285 weeks at No. 1 and a record of 237 consecutive weeks. It's a bit odd to see Federer not a No. 1 or No. 2 in the tennis world, even at his age.
Federer's dominance began at the 2003 Wimbledon when he won his first Grand Slam. Ever since then, Federer has done about everything in the sport of tennis. He's been the man to beat even if he's not a top seed. That's how much he is respected by fellow players.
According to ESPN, Federer doesn't buy too much into the new ranking. Surprisingly, Federer says he is satisfied with being in the top 10.
"I look at the big picture and what is important to me is just to be in the top 10 and if I am No. 2 or not at the French Open doesn't change anything, and doesn't change anything for Rafa," Federer said. "That I was able to win Madrid was amazing, and that's what I look at right now—not the rankings."
This may be true for the Swiss, but to say he's not looking to achieve the No. 1 ranking one more time would probably be far from the truth. With one more week at No. 1, Federer will tie Pete Sampras for most weeks at the top ranking with 286 weeks.
Federer has not seen top success in this week's Italian Open in Rome, but can see his confidence rise on the red clay as the French Open approaches rapidly. He's hungry to win at the French and redeem the top honor in tennis, the No. 1 ranking.
Perhaps Federer wants to have one last run as No. 1 as did Sampras. He has nothing left to prove, and can possibly win another major or two in his career. Just to see the passion and dedication in Federer's eyes is remarkable for the tennis world.
Brace yourselves for possibly one last run for arguably the greatest tennis player of all time.