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'I still had blonde hair' Federer goes candid on his first Rotterdam Open participation in 1999

International Business Times logo International Business Times 13/02/2018 Arunava Ray
Roger Federer © Getty Roger Federer

Roger Federer has revealed that he did not envisage a career as fulfilling as the one he has currently, when he first made an appearance in the Rotterdam Open in 1999.

The Swiss ace is gunning to become the oldest World No 1 eclipsing Andre Agassi's record. Agassi was 33 years old when he became the top ranked player in 2003. Federer only has to reach the semi-finals in the Rotterdam Open this week to guarantee his return to the top of the ATP World Rankings.

The 36-year-old managed to lift his 20th Grand Slam title in Melbourne, winning his sixth Australian Open by defeating Marin Cilic in the finals. The win means that he has stretched his lead over Rafael Nadal to four Grand Slams and is doing his part in establishing himself as the greatest tennis player of all time.

The duo have shared the five Grand Slams between them since the turn of 2017, with Federer winning two Australian Opens and Wimbledon, and Nadal keeping pace by taking the French Open and US Open. The Spaniard has already been deemed the favourite going into the French Open in May, with the 31-year-old looking for his 11th Roland Garros title.

Meanwhile, Federer, who sported blonde hair then, never thought that he would be this successful 19 years down the line, when he first made his way into Rotterdam, a year after winning the prestigious Orange Bowl.

Ranked No 178 at the time, Federer lost in the quarter-finals to former world No 1 YevgenyKafelnikov, but had shown enough promise of more to come in the game.

"I would have probably hoped so but at the time I was more concerned of trying to make a breakthrough on the tour," Federer said, as quoted by the Express.

"I wasn't top 100 yet, I still had blonde hair and it was still growing out from the time I won the junior world championships at the end of '98 in Miami and shortly after that I cut it off in the clay court season.

"Things were totally different way back when but I love looking back at my run here in '99 I came through qualifiers, made the quarters, I was up a break I think in the third against Kafelnikov.

"It was just a wonderful experience and I always consider Rotterdam as one of my favourite tournaments on the tour."

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