Roger Federer says he's no longer concerned about his ranking, according to an interview with a Swiss newspaper. Ranked No. 1 a year ago after winning Wimbledon for his 17th major title, Federer has slipped to No. 5, his lowest ranking since 2003.
"I don't think my ego would suffer if one day I was no longer in the top 10," Federer told Le Matin. "There's a moment when the rankings aren't that important anymore. Honestly, I don't even know what my current ranking is. Fourth? Fifth? Third? Today, my ranking isn't that important to me anymore."
Federer, who is playing a clay-court event in Gstaad, Switzerland, this week, said he's more motivated than ever to get back on court after losing early at Wimbledon. That motivation is what fuels him to keep playing, regardless of his ranking, which is not unlike his friend Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt, who is still competing hard at age 32, was No. 1 in 2001. This week, he's ranked No. 64.
Federer was asked whether there might come a point when he would retire because his ranking dropped so low.
"No," he said. "In terms of rankings at least. Lleyton Hewitt is a great example in my mind. Whether he's 170th, 20th or fifth, his ranking isn't important to him. He just takes a lot of pleasure in playing."
Federer, who turns 32 next month, is trying to jump-start his season after changing to a racket with a bigger head and reshuffling his schedule. He's won only one title this year, an ATP 250 event in Halle, Germany, and his best Grand Slam result came at the Australian Open, where he made the semifinals. He has also suffered some milestone losses. First, he dropped his second-round match at Wimbledon to No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky, snapping his record streak of 36 Grand Slam quarterfinals. Then last week, he lost to No. 114 Federico Delbonis at the German Tennis Championships, marking the first time Federer has lost in back-to-back tournaments to players ranked outside the top 100 since 2002.
Earlier this week, Pete Sampras said he didn't think Federer would ever win Wimbledon again. Tim Henman and Boris Becker have said Federer's body, which has remained remarkably injury-free during his career, has finally caught up to him.
"I don't have any problem with critics," Federer said. "But I expect people to be honest. This situation is not new for me. In 2009 and 2010, people were already saying, 'He's won everything, now he's done.' The more people comment, the greater the probability that someone will say something stupid."
Federer plays his first match in Gstaad on Thursday against Daniel Brands.