Roger Federer Hits the Century Mark in Tournament Titles with Dubai Crown
(March 2, 2019) DUBAI – Roger Federer became just the second male player to win 100 ATP Tour-level titles in the Open Era when he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 to capture his eighth Dubai crown on Saturday.
The 20-time major champion is behind Jimmy Connors who ended his career with 109 titles.
“It’s an absolute dream come true right now,” the 37-year-old Federer said on the court during the trophy ceremony.
Federer broke serve in the very first game of the match and held on to win the first set, saving two break points as he was serving to close out the set. In the second set Federer broke Tsitsipas’ serve in the ninth game and held on to complete the win.
“Yeah, so I think this one has a deep satisfaction, an immediate one, because I know what it means,” the Swiss said during his news conference.
“I like these type of numbers or records, to be quite honest. A lot of people always emphasize all the slams and all these things. I play on the ATP Tour. This is where I’ve won so many of them. Been around for so long.
“Yeah, I don’t rest between slams all the time, like people think I might be. But I’m not. I think this number proves that. I think that’s why this was a very exciting week for me.
“I didn’t come here expecting I was going to win, to be quite honest. I hadn’t played since Australia. Just happy on all fronts how my game progressed, how well I played in the finals, on top of it winning the eighth, winning the 100th. So many magical things going on. Yeah, I’m very, very happy right now.”
In terms of the hunt for 109, Federer responded: “Well, now I know a lot of people always ask me about, are you going to go for 109? Winning titles, to answer the question, is not easy,” The Swiss said during his news conference. “Winning five matches in six days or five matches in five days, it takes a different type of fitness. Sometimes you can lose them in the semis. You can play a great tournament, play a brutal semis, you get unlucky sometimes with the schedule, whatever it may be. You could lose the finals not because the opponent is better, just sometimes it’s like that.
“That’s why you have to be fit on many fronts: mentally, physically, also your game has to translate. You have to be able to beat different types of players, not just the grinders, not just the big servers, not just the attacking players. You have to be able to beat them all in successive days.
“I think that’s a tricky thing to do for a lot of players. That’s why you have to improve your game so much that you can do that. Only a few players can do that every year, five, six, seven times or more during a single year. “
For Tsitsipas, despite the loss, the 20-year-old will reach a career milestone on Monday when he enters the Top Ten. He’ll be the first Greek Male player to attain that pinnacle.
He talked about the process during his news conference: “It was a step-by-step process. First I cracked into the top 100. Then I had another goal of making the top 50. I would say the toughest thing, toughest achievement, was getting into the top 100. I’d been struggling to make it quite a while. If there was a moment where I would recall the toughest one was getting in the top 100.
“It felt like my game was flowing pretty well. I felt like I was improving every single time. I felt like I could break into the top 10. Once I was inside the top 100, I felt like I had the possibilities and the game to make it.
“I was happy last night against Gael (Monfils). “It was something I was craving for for a long time. I was not sure, because I was 11 in the world. This match, probably Indian Wells, Miami, maybe some other players behind you play better, it’s really tough to deal with it. I’m happy that I got through that.”
As for the 69-minute match, the Greek player discussed his idol, Federer’s aggressive play. “He was very aggressive, didn’t give me any time today. I mean, I was expecting it, for him to be a little more aggressive. He just seemed like having control over everything he was doing, taking the ball super early, on the rise, giving me no time to prepare.
“It was a very fast-tempo game. It felt like he was controlling everything on his own terms. He was just very, very aggressive. I probably didn’t make the right decisions on my serve. That’s why I lost with that score.”
“Just feels strange,” (playing and losing to his idol). “I really want to win my first 500 title. I’ve been trying hard, very long now. I mean, it’s a bit sad. I’m a bit sad that I didn’t manage to do it now.
“I’m actually pretty happy for him, as well. As I said before, I know he has worked very hard to get there. I mean, I didn’t want to give it to him. I’m happy that he had achieved what he achieved.
“I mean, it was completely different atmosphere today. I don’t know if it played big role in my performance, but I felt like the crowd was really cheering for him. I mean, that’s obvious. He’s a legend.”
Eight of Federer’s 100 titles have come in Dubai. Federer intends to play this tournament again next year, as the tournament director mentioned during the trophy ceremony.
“The idea was for the people to know that I am coming back next year,” Federer said. “That is the plan. I have a deal for next year. I thought about it this week because I know they said they were interested to have me again next year, if it was okay to announce it during the week. I said, Absolutely, we can do that.”
Next stop for both men will be the BNP Paribas Open which begins next week.
More to follow….
All photos by Nida Albhai