Continued from Part 1
WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPION
Having reached the semifinals of the 1998 junior Australian Open, and at age 16-and-a-half, Federer turned professional.
After three years of training at the academy in Ecublens, he re-located to the new Swiss National Training Centre at Biel.
There he was reunited with Peter Carter and another coach, Swede Peter Lundgren, who'd been appointed National Trainer.
Biel is much closer to his hometown of Basel, and Roger felt much more comfortable there than he’d been at Ecublens.
1998 saw Roger win the junior Wimbledon singles and doubles titles, but lose to David Nalbandian in the final of the junior U.S. Open.
He then reached the quarterfinals of the ATP tournament in Toulouse, won the Swiss satellite, and at age 17 he finished 1998 ranked world No. 301.
In December, Roger won the 18-and-under Orange Bowl in Florida, ended the year ranked as the world No. 1 junior and was named the world junior champion.
Still with another year as a junior left to go, Roger then began playing full-time on the ATP tour. He chose Lundgren rather than Carter as his travelling coach.
This was something of a shock to Carter, but Roger remained in regular contact with him, and would later help install him as the Swiss Davis Cup captain.
In early 1999 Roger entered the Top 200. Despite losing in the first rounds of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon and having just turned 18, he entered the world’s Top 100 and ended the year as No. 65.
At Marseille in February 2000, Federer reached his first ATP tour final, and a month later entered the Top 50.
He reached the fourth round of Roland Garros, but he lost in the first round of Wimbledon and the third round of the US Open.
Age 19, he ended 2000 ranked world No. 29.
Federer won his first ATP title in Milan in early 2001, reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, and then he caused a major upset in beating Pete Sampras in the last 16 of Wimbledon.
Having reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open, he ended 2001 as world No. 13.
In May 2002, Federer at age 20, broke into the world’s Top 10.
He won the Hamburg Masters, but then he crashed out in the first round of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
Lundgren commented at that time, “He has so much talent and so many shots that he sometimes doesn’t know how to use them.”
DEATH OF A FRIEND AND COACH
Tragedy struck on August 1, 2002 when he was 37 years old. Peter Carter was killed in a road accident in South Africa.
Roger, who was competing in Toronto at the time, said after hearing the news,
I was very shocked and very sad when I found out. He was a very close friend. Peter wasn’t my first coach, but he was my real coach. I made trips with him. He knew me and my game, and was always thinking of what was good for me.
Later Roger added,
He was a very important man in my tennis career, if not the most important. I had been with him from age 10 to 14, and then again from 16 till 20, so I knew him very well.He gave me a lot in terms of his personality, in terms of technique and on the court. It was a hard loss. In those weeks after he died, everything went very quickly. I decided that I would compete in the US Open because I guessed that’s what Peter would have liked to see me do, not just sit around. I don’t know if it was good or for bad…It was also a very influential moment in my career.
Federer continued, "It certainly marked me, and there was a reaction in terms of how I look at life now. It was a hard moment, and I think of him very often still.”
The loss of Carter may inadvertently have been one of the reasons for the improvement Federer then made. Roger said, “I guess it made me mentally stronger and I started thinking what do I have to do to get to the next level?”
After reaching the fourth round of the U.S. Open, he showed greater consistency by reaching the semifinals at Stuttgart, Paris and the end-of-year Tennis Masters Cup.
At age 21, he ended 2002 ranked world No.6.
In 2003, Roger reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, won titles at Marseille, Dubai and Munich, and reached the final of the Rome Masters.
Once again, though, he then suffered another shock defeat in the first round of the French Open; he lost in straight sets to world No. 88 Luis Horna.
He said afterwards, “The entire world keeps reminding me that I’m supposed to win a Grand Slam tournament and be No.1 in the world. That’s not fair because it’s not that easy. I don’t know how long I’ll need to get over this defeat – a day, a week or my entire career!”
It didn’t take Roger that long, as a month later at age 21, he went to Wimbledon and to the surprise of many, won his first Grand Slam title; he beat Andy Roddick in the semifinals and Mark Philippoussis in the final.
In October, Federer won the title at Vienna, won the end-of-year Tennis Masters Cup, and ended 2003 as world No.2.
THE GREATEST TENNIS PLAYER OF ALL TIME
In February 2004, Federer became the world No.1, a position he maintained for a record 237 consecutive weeks.
And apart from at the French Open at Roland Garros, for over four years he completely dominated the world of men’s professional tennis and won five consecutive Wimbledons between 2003 and 2007.
Federer finally relinquished his Wimbledon throne and lost in the 2008 final to Rafael Nadal, 9-7 in the fifth set; it was a match, which is considered by many, Borg and McEnroe included, to have been the greatest of all time.
Also in 2008, he won the doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, along with compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka.
Having lost in the final the previous three years running to Nadal, in 2009 Federer won his first French Open, and equaled Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slam singles titles.
In doing so, he became only the sixth man in tennis history to win each of the Grand Slams.
By winning the 2009 Wimbledon final against Andy Roddick, Federer broke Sampras’ record to win his 15th Grand Slam title, and he became the most successful male player of all time; he regained his world No. 1 ranking in the process.
In August, he became the first player in tennis history to earn over $50 million in on-court career prize money.
2010 saw Federer collect his 16th Grand Slam, beating Andy Murray in the final of the Australian Open.
In August, having hired Sampras’ former coach Paul Annacone, he finished the year by beating Nadal in the final of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, his fifth end-of-year championship win.
Federer then won a record sixth ATP World Tour Finals title at the end of 2011.
And in early 2012, just when everyone was beginning to write him off, Federer won titles at Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells and Madrid.
He lost to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the French Open and headed to Wimbledon having lost in the final at Halle.
REINFORCING HIS POSITION AS THE GOAT
Before Wimbledon 2012 John McEnroe was one of the few to tip the Swiss for the title.
Federer survived a massive scare in the third round against Julien Benneteau, recovering from two sets down, and being within just two points of defeat.
Having reached the semifinals, he dispatched defending champion and world No. 1 Djokovic, and faced Britain’s Andy Murray in the final.
Playing some of the best tennis of his career, Federer overcame the Scotsman in four sets.
Federer’s victory saw him increase his tally of Grand Slams to 17 and equal Pete Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon titles.
The win also lifted him back to world No. 1. This meant that he also equalled Sampras’ record of 286 weeks as the world’s top-ranked player, a record he broke the following week.
At the London 2012 Olympics Federer won the silver medal in singles.
Approaching the 2012 US Open, world No. 1 Federer, has won 76 career titles. His 17 Grand Slams consist of seven Wimbledons, five U.S. Opens, four Australian Opens, and one French Open.
He has earned over $73 million in career prize money.
Taking advantage of the lucrative endorsement, exhibitions and appearance money available to him as the world’s greatest player has earned him over $350 million - all before he turned 31.
From my book, “So you want to win Wimbledon? - How to turn the dream into reality" - available from Amazon