Tennis: Peerless Roger Federer heads list of oldest world No. 1s

Roger Federer officially replaced Andre Afassi as the oldest world No. 1 on Feb 19, 2018.
Roger Federer officially replaced Andre Afassi as the oldest world No. 1 on Feb 19, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE - When you're arguably the greatest male tennis player of all time, the superlatives ought to come easy. But when you continue to rewind the clock and break new ground, even they run out for Roger Federer.

The Swiss maestro officially became the oldest world No. 1, male or female, since the ATP rankings came into being in 1973 and for the fourth time running on Monday (Feb 19).

He begins his 303rd week on top with 10,105 rating points, 345 points ahead of second-placed rival Spaniard Rafael Nadal and at the ripe, old age of 36, deposing American great Andre Agassi, who was 33 when he last enjoyed the honour of being world No. 1.

Having first scaled the summit in February 2004, the 20-time Grand Slam winner already holds the longest reign as No. 1 (237 weeks), and with a record gap of five years, 106 days between his last stint at the top, it's no surprise after lifting the Rotterdam Open title on Sunday, his 97th career trophy, that he considered the lead-up to the landmark as "one of the best weeks of my life".

The Straits Times looks at the top-five oldest male world No. 1s and why their achievements stand the test of time.

1) Roger Federer

To put Federer's milestones into perspective, at 286 weeks at the top, retired American great Pete Sampras has been left in the dust. Serb Novak Djokovic is the nearest active player, with 223 weeks at No. 1.

2) Andre Agassi

An eight-time Grand Slam winner, Agassi last held the status as the sport's oldest top dog from June 16, 2003 to Sept 7, 2003.

3) Rafael Nadal

At 31, he is the oldest man to finish a year (2017) as world No. 1 since 1973. Nadal first managed this feat at the age of 22 in 2008, and has gone on to claim the position again in 2010 and 2013.

4) Jimmy Connors

Like Agassi, the American won eight Grand Slams and was 30 when he reclaimed the No. 1 ranking in 1983.

5) Ivan Lendl

The Czech-born American was the winner of eight Slams and last reached the top of the pile at 30 in 1990. He remains third on the most number of weeks spent as No. 1 at 270 weeks, two ahead of Connors.