“Longevity has always been a large part of my game,” declared Federer. “When I first became world No.1 here in Melbourne in 2004, I was hoping to play for a long time.”
Well, Roger Federer’s wish was granted.
His triumph at Perth Arena alongside Swiss legend Martina Hingis back in 2001 was a sign of things to come, as Federer built his captivating, record-breaking, trophy-laden career.
Perth has always held a special place in the 19-time Grand Slam champion’s heart.
In 1999, he was a hitting partner for the Swiss duo of Ivo Hueberger and Hingis.
Having lifted the trophy in 2001 with Hingis, he returned the following Australian summer partnering Miroslava ‘Mirka’ Vavrinec, who was already his girlfriend and became his wife in 2009.
In 2017, the Swiss maestro came back to Mastercard Hopman Cup and narrowly missed out on the final with Belinda Bencic, falling to eventual champions France.
— Hopman Cup (@hopmancup) January 4, 2018
So, what was the Tour like back in 2001 when Roger first ruled in Perth?
Gregarious Brazlian Gustavo Kuerten ruled the roost in the men’s game having navigated past Andre Agassi at the season ending Finals.
Federer’s 2000 Grand Slam record included third round showings at the Australian Open and US Open, a fourth round at Roland Garros, but he fell to fifth seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov at the Wimbledon first hurdle
Men’s Top 10 before Hopman Cup 2001:
1 Gustavo Kuerten – French Open champion
2 Marat Safin – US Open champion
3 Pete Sampras – Wimbledon champion
4 Magnus Norman
5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov
6 Andre Agassi – Australian Open champion
7 Lleyton Hewitt
8 Alex Corretja
9 Thomas Enqvist
10 Tim Henman
29 Roger Federer
Women’s Top 10 before Hopman Cup 2001:
1 Martina Hingis
2 Lindsay Davenport – Australian Open champion
3 Venus Williams – Wimbledon and US Open champion
4 Monica Seles
5 Conchita Martinez
6 Serena Williams
7 Mary Pierce – French Open champion
8 Anna Kournikova
9 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario
10 Nathalie Tauziat
What happened in Perth?
World No.2 and US Open champion Marat Safin was in the ranks for Russia, whilst Kim Clijsters led the title charge for Belgium in a very strong field.
Boosted by the support of Hingis, Federer defeated home favourite Richard Fromberg and Paradorn Srichaphan in the singles, but also fell to South African Wayne Ferreira 6-3 3-6 6-3 in the group stages.
The Swiss faced Team USA in the final and were half way to the title courtesy of Hingis pipping Monica Seles 7-5 6-4.
Federer stepped up to land the trophy, navigating past American Michael Gambill in straight sets.
“Martina was partially the one who showed me how it was all done,” said 19-time Grand Slam champion Federer.
“It was great for Switzerland to have someone of her calibre. We were very lucky. I loved playing with her at Hopman Cup, she was always super friendly, I love that about her.”
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) January 4, 2018
17 years later and Federer would be ecstatic to clinch Team Switzerland a third Hopman Cup title.
“Yeah it would be special, but it’s more about winning the trophy for Team Switzerland with Belinda,” added the world No.2.
“I’ve loved the experience every time I’ve come here, so it would be great to win again.”