Former five-time ATP champ reflects on beating young Roger Federer: “Didn’t see anything special”

The maestro of tennis, Roger Federer, is absolutely adored by everyone. During the course of twenty-four years in the realm of professional tennis, the Swiss has won 20 Grand Slams and 103 ATP titles. Even after his heart-wrenching farewell match at the Laver Cup 2022, he actively continues to inspire the next generation of tennis.

Federer was part of the legendary Big Three trio that included Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. However, Federer also went through some defeats throughout his career. A former five-time ATP champion has recently shared his experience of beating a young Federer.

Younes El Aynaoui’s initial underestimation of Federer’s potential

Ex-tennis star Younes El Aynaoui has revealed that he did not think anything special of Roger Federer or thought that the Swiss was going to be that good after they first met in 1999. The former five-time ATP champion first met Federer on the clay courts of Gstaad in 1999 and he handled the Swiss in fine fashion with a 6-2, 6-3 first round win.

However, during the match, El Aynaoui noticed that Roger Federer wasn’t really developed in the physical area and didn’t believe he would become the kind of player he turned out to be. The Swiss was the first men’s player to reach the 20-landmark in winning Grand Slam titles.

The New York Times

“I beat him in 1999, they gave him a wildcard in Gstaad, Switzerland. The previous year he had finished No 1 in the junior world but physically it was evident that he was still struggling a little, nothing like what came after,” El Aynaoui told Punto de Break.

“At that moment of beating him I didn’t think anything special, I didn’t have that feeling that I had with Rafa of knowing that he was going to be very good. With Roger I didn’t think he was going to be that good, but he made a huge physical change, he became much stronger and faster,” El Aynaoui added.

Tennis analyst delves into Roger Federer’s peak form in 2017

Roger Federer’s triumph left an indelible mark on the world of tennis and continues to impact the next generation.  And Gill Gross believes that Federer’s mental and physical aspects of his life helped him achieve an incredible result in 2017 season. Roger Federer won 19 out of his 20 matches that season.

“Just the zone that he entered at that time, where he was playing a hyper-offensive style, the most dangerous backhand he’s ever been, particularly the return. You bring those racket skills, probably the greatest racket skills in the history of the sport. And you eliminate nerves completely,” he said.

“I think for Federer, full year, start to finish, I would say 2005 and 2006. But there is an argument that the first half of 2017, if you wanna say that’s the best tennis he has ever played, I’m also very much okay to hear that argument. I mean, Federer was playing with 100% freedom,” the American said.

Roger Federer
US Open

Gill Gross also referred to how Roger Federer had been out of action for nearly six months due to a knee injury right before he went all the way at the 2017: “just came organically from the fact that he comes off the surgery, doesn’t have expectations, wins the Australian Open, I think it was tennis euphoria for him. If you wanna tell me that’s the best level he’s ever reached, yeah I’ll hear that argument,” he added.

The 2017 season for Roger Federer was one of the most significant years of his career, with a 54-5 win/loss record that year, the highlights of which included winning the Australian Open and the Wimbledon Champion. But what was FedEx’s best season in your opinion? Make sure to let us know in the comments section.

Victor Okechukwu

219 articles


Leave a Comment