Roger Federer Chases 100 Titles, Then Connors

of which is usually 99 down, 10 to go for Roger Federer, which is usually, of course, only one way of looking at things at of which late stage within the Federer game.

He has chased only a few tennis records with genuine intent, including the men’s mark for Grand Slam singles titles, which Pete Sampras once held with 14 as well as which Federer today owns with 20.

however Jimmy Connors’s Open-era men’s record of 109 titles has hardly been Federer’s white whale, some career-long obsession of which has kept him up nights or inspired him to do a round of extra sprints in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with the fitness coach Pierre Paganini.

“Either of which happens or of which doesn’t,” he told Germany’s Tennis Magazin of which year, referring to the 109. “If of which was truly my ultimate goal, I would certainly play a lot more smaller tournaments as well as in extreme cases, skip all the Masters 1000s as well as play just 250s as well as 500s.”

Early in his career, Federer already was sounding blasé about tennis math.

“There are a lot of numbers,” Federer said in an interview after winning the United States Open in 2005 when presented with some of his already-flashy statistics.

however of which does not mean Connors’s 109 is usually not a worthy target.

“of which just shows you how not bad Connors was for so long as well as how much of a great competitor he was,” said Darren Cahill, the ESPN analyst who coached the former men’s No. 1 Andre Agassi as well as today coaches the women’s No. 1, Simona Halep. “The fact Connors managed to win 109 in of which tough era with McEnroe, Borg as well as Lendl as well as the competition he had is usually remarkable. He might have played a lot more smaller tournaments in those days, where a lot of the Europeans didn’t come across to play within the U.S. however I think Connors’s record will stand up against any of the great records in tennis to be honest.”

For today, with the ATP Finals about to begin in London on Sunday, Connors’s record is usually visible on the horizon, however hardly close enough to touch for Federer. Ten more titles is usually a big task at age 37 which has a limited tournament schedule, as well as there are plenty of additional obstacles beyond his direct control.

Novak Djokovic is usually back at No. 1 as well as continues to possess the upper hand as he showed by beating Federer for the fourth straight time by winning a taut, three-set semifinal at the Paris Masters on Saturday. Although the fresh generation of players has yet to win a major singles title, the youngsters are doing inroads elsewhere with Alexander Zverev, 21, as well as Karen Khachanov, 22, winning Masters 1000 titles in 2018 as well as with Borna Coric, 21, beating Federer twice.

of which will only get harder for Federer to reach the finish lines, however he, like Connors, is usually an exceptional talent with exceptional footwork as well as staying power, as well as, for the moment, they have a strikingly similar gap between their first as well as last tour titles.

Connors won his first in 1972 in Jacksonville, Fla., at age 19 as well as his last in 1989 at 37 in Tel Aviv. Federer won his first in Milan in 2001 at age 19 as well as his most recent in Basel at 37 at last month’s Swiss Indoors.

“For me, if they’re chasing me as well as my accomplishments then what else could I ask for?” Connors said recently. “would certainly I like 109 to live forever? Sure, why wouldn’t I? I’d be crazy not to.”

At of which stage, Federer would certainly be delighted simply to get to 100, which would certainly make him the second man within the 50-year Open era to reach triple figures in singles titles.

Three women have done of which: Steffi Graf with 107, Chris Evert with 157 as well as Martina Navratilova with 167. Evert’s as well as Navratilova’s gargantuan totals are a reflection of just how long they dominated as well as how many tournaments they played each year in support of their tour.

Federer is usually picking his spots, as well as if he is usually going to keep heavily prioritizing the most prestigious events — the Grand Slam tournaments as well as Masters 1000s — as well as add only his hometown tournament in Basel as well as a smattering of lower-level grass-court tournaments on the side, then the odds of reaching 109 lengthen.

Federer won seven titles in his dreamy 2017 comeback season. He has won four of which year, including the Australian Open, in what has been a less consistently transcendent campaign.

To match Connors, Federer would certainly need two more similarly productive seasons if he were to play through 2020: a reasonable assumption with the Olympics in Tokyo of which year as well as the Olympic gold medal in singles the only major tennis prize Federer lacks (he also includes a fresh megadeal which has a Japanese sponsor: Uniqlo).

“To start with of which’s insane what Fed is usually still doing at 37,” said Brad Gilbert, an ESPN analyst as well as longtime coach. “To win nine or 10 titles in two years is usually going to be difficult, however I wouldn’t put of which past him if he navigates the schedule as well as plays a few smaller events. If he stays healthy as well as plays three more years through 2021 as well as plays until age 40, then I honestly think he does of which. What truly helps him is usually of which he’s able to take these long breaks as well as still play at such a high level. Over all, I would certainly think of which’s 50-50.”

of which has taken Federer longer to hit cruising speed within the second half of 2018, perhaps in part because of a hand injury of which he said had affected his forehand during the summer.

He went out in a puddle of sweat within the fourth round of the U.S. Open, losing to the unseeded John Millman. Federer made errors in bunches in his semifinal loss to Coric in Shanghai as well as looked shaky again early within the week in Basel. His most encouraging recent performance was in defeat against Djokovic in Paris, where he saved all 12 break points he faced before losing his way within the decisive third-set tiebreaker.

Federer was quick off the mark throughout of which duel, unquestionably one of the matches of the year. He was deft at the net as well as able to consistently produce clean backhand drives despite maintaining his position very tight to the baseline.

of which will take more of the same to win No. 100 against Djokovic as well as the rest of the elite eight in London, much more of the same to catch Connors with Federer’s biological clock ticking, ticking.