Newly crowned eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer has half an eye on the number one ranking after rising back to third in the world with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 defeat of Marin Cilic in the weekend final at the All England club.
The 35-year-old Swiss, holder of the all-time men’s record of 19 grand slam singles titles, is now reaping the benefits of skipping the last six months of 2016 to fully heal a knee injury.
Federer stands just a handful of ranking points behind the leaders: around 1,200 away from top Andy Murray and 1,100 short of Rafael Nadal.
But Federer says that the joys of being the fully fit Wimbledon champion outweighs any chase for the ATP top spot.
“Winning another Wimbledon is bigger than number one right now,” he said. “In 2004 when I first got to the top, that was big.
“I’ve over-exceeded expectations this year, to be reigning Wimbledon champion for an entire year is the best thing.”
With an ATP leading five titles since January, Federer is well-placed to continue making a winning impression in 2017.
“I will take the best decisions for my health, I just hope myself and Rafa can play well for the rest of the season,” he said of his long-time top rival.
Nadal and Federer are currently the two uninjured members of the Big Four players, with Murray and Novak Djokovic both nursing problems and possibly doubtful for the US Open.
Even at his lofty level, Federer can still be amazed in victory: “The emotion is still sinking in that it really happened,” he said of the win over Cilic.
“I won Wimbledon for a record eighth time, I wrote history with my family watching. It’s emotional and nice, I’m very happy.”
Federer credits his six-month break with rebooting his game. “It was a lot of work in the physio room and the gym and on the court. I was staying positive and enjoying the time away from tennis.
“When you come back after that you want to be eager, fresh and ready. It was good to take that time off.”
Federer is the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to win Wimbledon without dropping a set.
“I’m playing good tennis, playing aggressive, serving great and with wonderful focus. If I don’t play too much I won’t be tired and hurt.”
Federer admits he’s surprised by the runaway success of this season.
“I gave myself almost no chance to win a major,” said the reigning Melbourne winner.
“I had no hope to win Australia, I thought of that event as kind of a tune-up for the season.
“But here, I really hoped I would have a chance to play well on grass. To go all the way is different than losing in the quarters or semis.”(dpa/NAN)