20 Jan 2001: Roger Federer of Switzerland in action during the sixth day of the Australian Open Tennis Championships, played at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia. Mandatory Credit: Adam Pretty/ALLSPORT

Roger Federer Debuted on the Rankings 20 Years Ago Today

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - As the man himself gets his Laver Cup campaign going in the Czech capital, the many, many fans of Roger Federer have something big to celebrate this Friday - it’s the 20th anniversary of the Swiss legend appearing on the ATP World Tour Rankings for the first time.

It was September 22, 1997, a Monday, when a 16-year-old Federer debuted on the rankings at No.803 in the world. He didn’t start playing full-time on the main tour until 1999, however, and it didn’t take him long to start soaring up those rankings - he debuted in the Top 100 on September 20, 1999, the Top 50 on March 6, 2000, the Top 20 on February 26, 2001 and the Top 10 on May 20, 2002.

He won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, and after winning his second one at the Australian Open in 2004 - on February 2, 2004 - Federer rose to No.1 in the world for the first time.

And today, after 20 years as a ranked player, he’s just one spot off of that at No.2 in the world.

Federer has actually spent 473 of his 1044 career weeks as a ranked player at either No.1 or No.2. That’s an amazing 45% of the time (302 career weeks at No.1 and 171 career weeks at No.2).

The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion is also fresh off playing his 71st career major - the most majors played for a man in the Open Era, passing Fabrice Santoro’s previous record of 70.

Here’s the Swiss legend arriving at this week’s Laver Cup, which you can watch on Tennis Channel:

And here are a few throwbacks to September 22, 1997, the day Federer debuted on the rankings:
- Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis were the World No.1s.
- Patrick Rafter had just won his first major at the US Open.
- Venus Williams had just reached her first major final there, too.
- And this song was No.1:

Read more articles by John Berkok

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