Federer back from brink to seal No. 1 record
Roger Federer survived a huge scare Thursday to reach the Shanghai
Masters quarter-finals and guarantee a record 300th week as world number
one as Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray showed ominous form.
The Swiss 17-time Grand Slam champion came into the match against
compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka with an enviable 11-1 head-to-head record
but struggled to impose himself and was forced to dig deep before
winning 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-0. In a gripping contest lasting nearly two
hours, Wawrinka missed a golden chance when he failed to make the most
of a break point opportunity at 4-4 in the second set that, if taken,
would have left him serving for the match.
"I consider myself a little lucky. I never stopped believing, pushed
till the end, then got off to a good start in the third set. Basically
that was it," said Federer, bidding to win a record 22nd Masters crown.
"It was a tough match. He was the better player for basically two sets.
It's great finding a way out that way, that's for sure." Federer,
surrounded this week by black-clad security heavies after a bizarre
pre-tournament death threat, said reaching the jaw-dropping 300-week
mark, which he will hit when the new rankings are out on Monday, was an
"incredible milestone". "So here I am at 300 weeks. It's pretty
incredible. Probably one of my biggest accomplishments. I'm very proud
of that record, no doubt about it." "It's a great reward for me," added
Federer, who returned to the number one spot following this year's
Wimbledon triumph. The previous record was held by American Pete
Sampras, who spent a total of 286 weeks as world number one.
Wawrinka, who teamed up with his illustrious compatriot to win
Olympics doubles gold in 2008, broke Federer in the seventh game of the
match to lead 4-3 and sealed the first set under lights at Qi Zhong
Out-of-sorts Federer, 31, continued to struggle in the second set as
the pair swapped breaks of serve and was in desperate trouble when
Wawrinka earned the break point that, if taken, would have given him a
5-4 lead over his Davis Cup team-mate.