Federer has achieved a universally acknowledged standing as one of the all time greatest players of tennis. On the 24th September 2012, he celebrated 15 years as an ATP ranked player.
For me, Federer's tennis is without equal when played to its best. With the very top of top drawer game, and exquisite playing style, I consider it a privilege to have seen him play live over the years, many times. I would urge all tennis fans who love the game for itself, to go and watch him play live if you can.
Here's a tribute from the ATP site: PLAYER NEWS 2012
Federer Celebrates 15 Years With ATP Ranking
by ATP Staff
On this Monday 15 years ago, Roger Federer appeared in the South African Airways ATP Rankings for the first time.
The Swiss debuted at joint World No. 803 on 22 September 1997 after a solid showing at a four-week satellite circuit, culminating in a semi-final appearance at the Switzerland 1 Masters in Bossonnens to earn 12 ATP points. In the first week of the Satellite, with courts surrounded by pastures filled with cows, Federer lost to future contemporary Yves Allegro, a countryman and friend he would later partner to two ATP World Tour doubles titles and a round of 16 showing at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Had Federer won the encounter against Allegro, he would have played Severin Luthi, now a member of his coaching team and the Davis Cup captain for Switzerland.
“I was already qualified for the semi-finals. I was waiting for my opponent, so I was watching the match,” Luthi reflected with ATPWorldTour.com. “I can remember on paper, Yves was still the favourite, but we all expected Roger to win. He ended up losing and had something in his eye at the end of the match. Afterwards, when Yves went to the referee, he told Yves, ‘Congratulations but this is the last time you’ll beat Roger.’ It was pretty funny. We’re still laughing about that today because it’s so tough to say that to someone.”
Luthi went on to beat Allegro and jumped 374 places to equal No. 753 following the completion of the circuit. It was the closest he came to squaring off against the future 17-time major champion, as he was no longer a full-time player, only entering events in his country.
“I would have loved to play him. I only played him once in a club match in doubles,” said Luthi. “It would have been a great thing, because he was upcoming and I was older with a bit more experience. He was very dangerous. He played against all the best guys on the satellites. Winning or losing, it would have been nice to play him either way.
“I was not professional at the time. I was only playing tournaments in Switzerland. I had an apprenticeship and was already working. I didn’t play international tournaments anymore.”
Among the players ranked around Federer at the time of his rankings debut was future two-time Grand Slam singles champion Lleyton Hewitt, who coincidentally dropped five spots to No. 808, but held the same number of points as his rival. Other notable names near Federer included future fellow World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero (No. 756), Juan Ignacio Chela (No. 762), Paradorn Srichaphan (No. 769), Bjorn Phau (No. 830), Xavier Malisse (No. 854) and Simon Aspelin (No. 857).
When asked if he thought Federer would achieve everything he's accomplished to date, Luthi said, “I would never have expected the success he had. I thought he was very talented and was playing great, but at that time, it was tough for me to imagine a Swiss would become No. 1 one day. I was too young and didn’t see that many players enough. We had a lot of talented players that never got to a great level. Every few months I saw Roger, he was getting better. But I wasn’t able to say how good he was going to be.”