Roger Federer became the second man in history to win 100 career titles as he captured the Dubai crown on Saturday. Federer joins Jimmy Connors as the only men to reach the century mark in terms of titles. The Swiss champion defeated the up-and-coming Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final 6-4 6-4. With the win, Federer avenged his fourth-round loss at the Australian Open just over a month ago.
There are countless impressive stats about this achievement. One highlight that we cannot overlook, though, is just how evenly split the levels of the titles are. Federer has won 100 titles: 26 of those are Grand Slams and year-end championships (20 Slams, 6 YEC), 27 are at the Masters 1000 level, 22 at the ATP 500 level, and 25 at the ATP 250 level. Contrast that with Connors’ 109. The American won only 11 at Majors or the YEC, 17 on the Championship Series (the equivalent of the Masters 1000 level), and a whopping 81 at the lower levels. The only advantage Connors has over Federer is that the American won his titles faster. Connors won his 100th title at the age of 33, while the Swiss is now 37.
Not that we need extra statistics to show Federer’s dominance over the past 15+ years, but his losses in finals also tell a story. Federer has lost 52 finals on his way to his 100 titles. Of those 52 losses, 21 of them came at the Masters 1000 level. Additionally, he has lost ten Grand Slam finals, 4 YEC finals, and one Olympic Gold Medal match. The Swiss has an incredible 47-16 record in finals of ATP 500 and 250 events, a winning percentage of .746.
The Dubai Final
In just over an hour Federer eased past the rising Greek who struggled to get an in on the Swiss service games. Federer broke Tsitsipas to open the match and held all the way for a 6-4 set (saving two break points in the final game of the set). In the second set things were steady and no player reached deuce until the 9th game, where Federer broke for 5-4 and served it out at love for what was a relatively routine final victory.
What’s left for Federer?
Roger Federer keeps on improving on his records even as he ages. He struggled at times in Dubai, hitting far too many errors and not being aggressive enough at times, especially in the first few rounds. This, perhaps, has become one of the most impressive things to see from the Swiss in recent years. His simple game–just keeping the ball in play and coming forward when he can–is enough to beat almost anyone in the world. Even when he can’t blast opponents off the court like in his prime, Federer can still beat almost everyone by sticking to his basics.
With Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal chasing after all of Federer’s records, the Swiss has to keep on adding to his own. His weeks at No. 1 mark is likely safe, but both Nadal and Djokovic are within range of catching Federer in number of titles won. Nadal has won 80, while Djokovic just trails that with 73. (Astoundingly, only 21 of Djokovic’s 73 titles have come at the ATP 500 or 250 level. The rest have all come at the Slam, YEC, or Masters 1000 level.)
Will his two competitors catch Federer? That’s a discussion for another time. As long as Federer keeps playing like he did this week–doing enough to win early, and then becoming unbeatable as the tournament presses on–we have quite a while before he’s done adding to his tally. Next up? It may take a while, but the Swiss “Maestro” is absolutely going to aim for Connors’ 109.