Spanish world tennis number one Rafael Nadal says it is too early to think Swiss rival Roger Federer could never return to the top.
“[This year] he won the Australian Open and the Cincinnati Open – he also reached the final in Madrid and Toronto. It’s been a good year for him,” said Nadal, currently playing in the Japan Open in Tokyo for the first time.
“His level of play is still very high. It’s difficult to always be 100 per cent – and what Federer has done for the past seven or eight years is almost impossible to equal. It’s incredible.”
Nadal won three of the four grand slam events this year. In the latest ATP rankings released on Monday he has 12,070 points, comfortably ahead of Serbia’s Novak Djokovic on 7,145 points and Federer, who has 6,735.
Federer, now aged 29, was world number one for a record 237 consecutive weeks – from February 2004 to August 2008. The previous record was 160 weeks set by Jimmy Connors. He then regained the top spot in July 2009 when Nadal had problems with his knees, only to be overtaken by him again in June 2010. He then slipped to number three a month later.
Federer has been number one for a total of 285 weeks, one week shy of Pete Sampras’s record.
His next tournament is set to be the Shanghai Masters, which begins on October 10.
swissinfo.ch and agencies