Roger Federer breaks records about as often as other players pop strings in their favourite racquets.
The splendid Swiss is a tennis junkie and usually aware of even the most obscure of his accomplishments.
At times, it seems redundant to bother mentioning his latest statistical feat but there is one approaching that clearly stands out. Next to winning the Davis Cup, something that becomes less likely for him with each passing season, or pulling off a calendar Grand Slam, which is improbable even for a player of his singular ability, it is one of the only remaining standards he can set that he will acknowledge with real pride.
On June 7, the day after the 2010 French Open ends, Federer will have held the No. 1 ranking for a total of 286 weeks. That will tie him with current record-holder Pete Sampras, and he will then pass the great American when the ATP rankings come out the following Monday, June 14.
Federer already has the record for the most consecutive weeks - 237 - at No. 1, something he achieved when he took over from Andy Roddick in February of 2004 and remained in the top spot until he was replaced by Rafael Nadal in August, 2008.
While it is not yet a mathematical certainty Federer, now at 275 weeks, will reach 286 before someone overtakes him, he would basically have to be sick or injured for an extended period for any one of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Nadal or Juan Martin del Potro to pile up enough points to catch him.
At the moment, here is how the rankings look:
1. Federer: 11,035 points
2. Djokovic: 8,220 points
3. Murray: 6,835 points
4. Nadal: 6,800 points
5. del Potro: 6,095 points
There are 2,000 points for Grand Slam winners, so Federer is defending, in the ATP's rolling 52-week rankings cycle, a big chuck at Roland Garros. But even if he fell flat and went out early on the terre battue in Paris, one of the remaining challengers would have to go on a lights-out run to catch him.
Here is what the problem is for Djokovic and Nadal, the two most credible threats to the 16-time Grand Slam champion.
Between now and the start of the French Open on May 23, Djokovoic is defending 2,410 points to just 1,810 for Federer. Over the same period, Nadal, who has totally dominated the clay-court season for the past five years, is defending 3,280.
Clearly, it will be extremely difficult for Djokovic and Nadal to make up enough ground on Federer for them to be within striking distance heading into Roland Garros.
So, look for Federer to hit a record 287 weeks at No. 1 on June 14, and then to try to push it over 300, a number that, among the multitude already associated with his storied career, has a nice ring to it.
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