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Roger Federer loses his crown

Federer's defeat to Nadal (right) at Wimbledon is seen as a turning point Reuters

It's been known for weeks, but now it's finally happened: Roger Federer has lost his No. 1 ranking after a record-breaking 237 weeks at the top.

This content was published on August 18, 2008 - 09:47

Four days after failing in his attempt to win an Olympic medal in the singles competition (he won gold in the doubles with partner Stanislas Wawrinka), the Swiss tennis player has lost his place to his Spanish rival Rafael Nadal who grabbed gold on Sunday.

Nadal effectively took over the top spot when he reached the semifinals in Cincinnati at the beginning of August, but the Olympics upset the timetable of the official rankings of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

The Swiss world No. 2 crashed out of Cincinatti in the third round, defeated in three sets by Croatia's Ivo Karlovic.

Despite his repeated assertions that his "big goal" was to stay world No. 1, he paid tribute to Nadal in Cincinnati when it looked as if the Spaniard might finally overtake him.

"If he gets it, he deserves it. He's been No. 2 for a long, long time," he told journalists. In fact Nadal has occupied that position for 160 weeks.

Nadal has dominated the first half of the season, including Wimbledon, where he thwarted Federer's attempt to win a record sixth straight title there in a five-set classic.

He had already once again captured the French Open, routing Federer in three straight sets. It is the one grand slam title which has always evaded the Swiss star.

"I know I'm going to be world No. 1. This is a gift to reward a huge amount of work in the past," said Nadal, the third Spaniard to hold the top spot after Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Annus horribilis

Twelve months ago people were asking whether Federer would win the Grand Slam, all four grand slam titles in a year. Eclipsing Pete Sampras's record of 14 grand slam titles was near. Now they are asking whether Federer will ever improve on his current tally of 12 titles.

2008 has indeed been a year to forget for Federer. He revealed in March that he had suffered a bout of glandular fever at the start of the season which had affected his practising and fitness.

His first defeat of the year was in January, when he lost in the semi-finals of the Australian Open to the eventual champion, Novak Djokovic. A few weeks later he went out in the first round of the Dubai championships – the first time since 2004 that he had not progressed to a second round.

Although he reached the finals of the French Open and Wimbledon Federer has yet to win a grand slam title this year. If he is knocked out of the US Open, it will be the first time since 2002 that he has not won a major.

Marriage?

However, even while expressing his disappointment at his Olympic performance, Federer was determined to save his season.

"I've still got the US Open to look forward to. I still have that and then the Masters Cup in Shanghai," he told journalists in Beijing.

His defeat by James Blake in the Olympic quarterfinals was all the more surprising since in their eight previous encounters Blake had taken only one set off him.

"I've noticed that I've been thinking about my future more seriously these days. Before I was focusing on what I needed to do to become a better player; now I'm thinking more and more about what I want to and can do after my days as an active athlete," Federer's website quotes him as saying.

"Thoughts like family and marriage also cross my mind more often."

He added that his charity foundation, which supports disadvantaged children and young people in his mother's home country, South Africa, was "definitely one of the priorities in the future, especially during the second half of my career".

Sponsorship

According to the Tribune de Genève newspaper, losing the No. 1 spot will not have much impact on Federer's relationship with his sponsors.

Federer has a life-long contract with his racket supplier Wilson, and a few months ago he signed an eight-year contract worth SFr130 million ($118 million) with the sport manufacturer Nike, the biggest advertising contract in the history of tennis.

For advertisers Federer is always a safe choice. This means he is likely to beat another record soon and become the highest paid tennis player ever.

Since he turned professional, Federer has earned in prize money alone nearly $42 million, only a million short of Pete Sampras.

Another target for Rafael Nadal.

swissinfo, based on an article in French by Mathias Froidevaux

Key facts

In 2001 Federer ended Pete Sampras's 31-match winning streak at Wimbledon in the fourth round of the tournament.

By winning Wimbledon in 2003, Federer joined Stefan Edberg, Pat Cash and Björn Borg as the only players to win both the juniors' and men's Wimbledon championships.

Federer has won five consecutive men's singles titles at Wimbledon (2003-2007), a feat only ever accomplished by Borg.

Pete Sampras holds the record for the total number of Wimbledon wins with seven.

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Roger Federer

Roger Federer was born on August 8, 1981, near in Binningen, near Basel.

His father is Swiss German, and his mother South African.

He speaks three languages fluently: German, French and English. At home he uses Swiss German.

He holds numerous records, including as the man to have stayed at the number one ranking for the longest unbroken period.

His doubles record stands at 106-71.

He lost his top singles ranking to Rafael Nadal on August 18.

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