They don’t talk about Roger Federer being the GOAT — Greatest Of All-Time, just in case you don’t get it — without justification to support the opinion. Certainly his record 17 Grand Slam titles is a head start on that thinking as is the long list of firsts that Fed’s assembled in his still on track career.
Well, here’s another first — a little-known first, at that — that can now be attributed to Federer. Starting int 2013, Federer is not obligated to any longer commit to the Masters 1000 Series tournaments. Yup, if the Swiss Master doesn’t want to play any of the top tier ATP Tour events, starting in 2013 he doesn’t have to do so.
How can that be? Well back when the folks at the men’s alphabet company were making the rules they put this one on the books
1.08 Reduction of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Commitment
A. A player’s number of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 commitment tournaments shall be
reduced by one (1) tournament for reaching each of the following milestones:
1) 600 matches* (as of 1 January of the commitment year)
2) 12 years of service
3) 31 years of age (as of 1 January of the commitment year)
If all three (3) conditions are met then the player has a complete exemption from the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 player commitment.
The first Year of Service shall be the first calendar year in which a player has competed in at least twelve (12) tournaments offering ranking points.
Yes, you can call it the Federer Rule now that he’s the first player to meet the requirements.
I’m guessing when the powers that be concocted this juicy addendum to the tour manifesto they didn’t think anyone would likely fulfill the requirements to have full and complete choice of where to play. Ah, but Federer’s a man of many talents and longevity. And to be honest, Roddick was bordering close to meeting the requirements as well if he only didn’t retire.
Our good friend Greg Sharko at the ATP World Tour Communications department does point out that if Federer chooses to skip a Masters 1000-level event he will receive a 0-pointer for not playing the tournament, but he will not be issued any penalty.
Truth be told, this little gem of an exception will unlikely make much difference to Federer, who has always been about free choice during his career. He’s ignored the rule that calls for top players to support all nine of the Masters 1000 level tournaments when it suited him, and just shrugged off the financial penalties and 0-pointers.
You see, Federer orchestrates his playing schedule as if it was a Stradivarius he was bowing. That’s a key ingredient to why he’s performed to such high standards and maintained a near-flawless injury-free career.
But it’s still an intriguing rule and it will be interesting to see how Federer uses it to his advantage. Being No. 1 is probably not all that important to Fed as much as being in optimum condition to keep his Grand Slam contention status up to snuff.
David Ferrer, 30, will just miss out on being eligible to invoke this rule by a few months in 2013. But playing at his prime this season — and winning his first Masters 1000 title at Paris a few weeks ago — unless something unexpected happens, he’ll still be around and able to invoke the rule in 2014. Of course, Ferrer’s a workaholic who plays a very demanding schedule, so this rule might prove to be of little consequence for the Spaniard.
But for now it’s another milestone — albeit a quirky turning point — that Federer can claim as he continues to rewrite the record books.