Kolkata: Swiss tennis star Stan Wawrinka has backed his good friend and fellow countryman and eighteen-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer to become the oldest player in history to seal the World No. 1 spot at the age of 35. The evergreen Federer recently climbed up four places to the sixth spot in the latest Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings after defeating the likes of Rafael Nadal and Wawrinka in straight sets to claim his fifth Indian Wells Masters title. These wins confirm that Federer has made excellent progress after a six-month layoff caused by a knee injury. For now, Andre Agassi holds the record of being the oldest player to hold the men’s No.1 ranking, at the age of 33.
The triumph in the Indian Wells was Federer’s second tournament win of the year following the Australian Open. “He’s playing really well,” said Wawrinka. “What is different, maybe, is that he is playing closer to the baseline and using less his slice. He is using more top spin, putting more pressure on you all the time, returning better that’s the difference I’ve seen,” he added.
“For sure he has a shot for number one, he has just won the first Masters final. For sure he has a big shot,” he said. From him nothing is a surprise, but for sure to see him moving that well at that age it is something amazing. It is good for me to see that you can be at the top (at that age). It is amazing to see how he is playing after a six-month injury,” he elaborated.
By winning in Melbourne, Federer became the oldest man since Ken Rosewall in 1972 to win a slam. In Australia, Federer was returning from a six month injury lay-off and was seeded 17th. Federer was the world No. 1 between February 2, 2004 and August 17, 2008 before Nadal overtook him. Two further stints have helped Federer to achieve the record of 302 weeks at the top of the men’s game. Novak Djokovic with 223 weeks is his closest active rival. The reigning world No.1, Andy Murray, has only enjoyed 20 weeks on top.
(With inputs from Hindustan Times)