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History |2012

Yet another record year ends for Roger and his fans. He wins his 17th Grand Slam title in Wimbledon, returns to the top of the World Rankings and improves on Pete Sampras' record as world number 1 for a total of 302 weeks. Winning Olympic silver ticks another box in his career. He achieves four further titles and thanks to an unbelievable result of 71 match wins (86%), he can look back at one of his most successful tennis years since 2006.


Season Start and the Australian Open
As in the previous year, the season starts for Roger at the Qatar Open in Doha. Along with Rafael Nadal, he opens the 2012 ATP World Tour in a magical ceremony surrounded by 4000 candles. After making it to the semi-finals, back problems force him to withdraw from his match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. 

At the Australian Open, Roger draws the same group as Rafael Nadal for the first time in a Grand Slam since 2005. He advances to the quarter-finals easily where his match against Juan Martin del Potro is even more significant. It marks the 1000th ATP match of his career and he pulls out all the stops. He eliminates his opponent in three sets and reaches the Australian Open semi-finals for the ninth time in a row since 2004. His opponent: Rafael Nadal.
Roger's made-to-measure start results in a 3-0 lead and he wins the tiebreak. However, Nadal stages an impressive comeback in the second set. He breaks Roger's serve three times, the game is even again. The spectators are then treated to spectacular rallies of which Roger takes charge at first. Nadal then asserts himself in the tiebreak of the third set and carries this drive through to the fourth set. Even though Roger manages to put his opponent under pressure a few times, Nadal ultimately maintains the upper hand and wins the match after 3 hours and 42 minutes.
Less than two weeks later, Roger joins his countrymen for the Davis Cup rubber in Fribourg (Switzerland), where the Swiss team takes on the USA in the first round. His team mate, Stanislas Wawrinka, unsuccessfully opens this clay event against Mardy Fish. Unfortunately it also goes the same way for Roger, who is caught on the wrong foot by big John Isner, who shows excellent form. After Roger takes the first set, the American gives his all and wins the next three sets of the match.
The doubles match against Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish goes the same way: Roger and Stan win the first set, whereupon their opponents increase the pressure, expertly control the game and do not let up. As a result Switzerland loses 0-3 and must face Holland in the play-offs in the Autumn.
Roger's Race to Catch Up
Despite this defeat, Roger steps up to the indoors ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam with new verve. He only drops his first set in the semis against Nikolay Davydenko; he even has to fight back from falling behind in the deciding set in order to qualify for the final. 
Roger meets Juan Martin del Potro in the final and plays brilliantly. By playing agressively  he is soon leading 6-1, confidently dominates the second set by 6-4 and as a result can celebrate his 71st ATP tournament victory.

Roger plays his next ATP 500 Tournament in Dubai and needs only 67 minutes to get rid of his first opponent, Michael Llodra. He receives notably more resistance from his next opponents, Feliciano Lopez, Mikhail Youzhny and Juan Martin del Porto, but nevertheless allows no break points and wins each match in two sets. In the final he faces Andy Murray, who has just beaten the world number one, Novak Djokovic. The match is balanced in the beginning and only with a late break point at 5-5, does Roger manage to take the set. Although Roger wins a break point in the second set, the Scot soon levels the match. A further break point and two match points later, the deserved winner, for the fifth time in Dubai, is Roger Federer, who - on the way to his 72nd tournament win - does not drop a single set. 

Following a short stop-over in New York where he faces Andy Roddick in Madison Square Garden for an exhibition match, Roger travels to Indian Wells. Despite a mild bout of influenza, he survives the first round against Denis Kuala and Milos Raonic without a problem. It takes Thomas Bellucci to push him over three sets, during which Roger unnecessarily makes life hard for himself at the onset by making unforced errors. After a clear victory in the quarterfinals against Juan Martin del Potro, Roger has to face an old foe in the semifinals, namely Rafael Nadal.
After heavy rainfall delays the match for 3 hours, tough conditions still prevail. Roger's game is nevertheless very effective and he makes good use of all three break points on offer. Although Nadal levels the match in the second set, Roger keeps his cool and serves himself into the finals with ease, where he meets with John Isner.
After being taken by surprise by Isner at the Davis Cup, Roger is extremely focussed this time. During the first intense set, Roger – for the first time ever – wins a tiebreak against the American, mostly due to his superb first serves. With two break points, he takes the second set, winning his 73rd tournament. His fourth win at Indian Wells sets a new record and, furthermore, equals Rafael Nadal's best achievement of 19 Masters ATP 1000 titles.

In the third round of the next ATP 1000 at the Ericsson Open in Miami, Roger has to face Andy Roddick, to whom he recently lost an exhibition match. This match is well-balanced until Roger fails to make good use of a break point in the third set and is eliminated from the tournament. 

Clay Offensive
After winning a tough first match against Milos Raonic at the Mutua Madrid Open, Roger really gets into gear again. On the much-criticised blue clay, Roger beats Richard Gasquet, David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic in succession without sacrificing a single set. He goes on to face Tomas Berdych in the finals. Roger's fourth tournament victory of the season does not come without a fight; under windy conditions, he loses the first set against the Czech, barely manages to win the next two sets, and in the end his 103 points amount to only 2 more than that of his opponent. With this victory, he not only earns the 74th tournament title in his career, but he also overtakes Rafael Nadal on the ATP rankings once again, becoming the world number two.

The ATP World Tour continues for Roger in Rome at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. He beats Carlos Berlocq, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Andreas Seppi and is only stopped in the semi-finals by Novak Djokovic: after losing the first set with two tie breaks, Roger pulls himself together in the second set and strongly tries to avoid the defeat he ultimately has to accept after a gripping tie-break.

Next up is the French Open in Paris, the second Grand Slam of the season. With his second-round victory over the Romanian, Adrian Ungur, Roger breaks a further record. He wins his 234th singles match at a Grand Slam tournament and overtakes Jimmy Connors record for the most career wins – proof of the consistently high standard of Roger's game. The fact that this is not always so simple is demonstrated by the matches to follow, mostly by a tough quarterfinal against Juan Martin del Potro. After a 2-set deficit, Roger bounces back and in the end wears down his opponent in 3 hours and 14 minutes to finish with two match balls.
The next challenge is already waiting, since – yet again – he has to face the world number one, Novak Djokovic, in the semis. However, an early break point in the first set, followed by a promising double break point in the second set, cannot stop the Serb. Djokovic wins both sets and keeps Roger in check in the third set, so much so that the match point shortly thereafter gives him his ticket into the finals. His loss against Novak Djokovic causes Roger to drop down on the world ranking list to third place – behind Nadal – for a short time.
Two Historic Victories 
The start of the season on grass at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle precedes two upcoming season’s highlights: Wimbledon and the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London. This "dress rehearsal" is not really successful in that Roger gets beaten in the final against Tommy Haas in two sets, mostly because he frustratingly throws away a good start in the first set. Nevertheless, his starting position for the upcoming tournaments is probably not the worst, since his opponents and the media do not portray him as a favourite.

Only a few days later, Roger is at Wimbledon and makes his mark in the first match against Albert Ramos. The Spaniard can only win a total of three service games and the match is over in just 79 minutes. Although it goes the same way against Fabio Fognini, whom he beats effortlessly, he comes close to defeat against Julien Benneteau, since the latter is only two points away from victory a number of times. When Roger takes the fiercely contested fourth set in a tie-break, the Frenchman's spirit is broken and in a superb final spurt, Roger wins the last set 6-1. Roger is suffering from back problems during the next round against the Belgian, Xavier Malisse. After having to survive three break points and calling for a medical timeout, play is fortunately stopped by rainfall allowing Roger the opportunity for more intensive medical treatment. The therapy seems to work wonders, since he wins the second set 6-1. Although he slows down slightly and loses the third set, he does not give up and qualifies for the quarterfinals, where he beats Mikhail Youzhny in three sets. The tournament favourite, Novak Djokovic, once again lays in wait in the semi-finals. At the same time it is a contest for the world rankings because a victory by Djokovic will improve his narrow lead, whereas a tournament victory by Roger will dethrone the Serb. Roger has a better start and takes the first set. Djokovic then manages to even out the match, but thereafter has to watch Roger calling the shots in the third and fourth sets and winning his first match point after two hours play.
It comes to the final everyone dreamed of, namely against Andy Murray; a match in which both opponents enjoy some form of home advantage. Roger is clearly nervous: he allows a break point at the start and makes an unusual amount of errors. However, after taking the second set and an interruption due to rainfall, he is in top form again. He keeps the Scot at bay during the third and fourth sets and in 3 hours and 26 minutes, he wins the second match point and also his 17th Grand Slam title.

It is a historic victory: Roger wins his 7th title on the "holy lawn"; thereby equalling Pete Sampras' record. Furthermore, the latter's record of 286 weeks on top of the world rankings does not last very much longer: after his spectacular victory over Andy Murray, Roger leads the rankings again and will go on to break even this unbelievable record.

Despite all of Roger's many victories to date, there is still something missing in his list of achievements: a singles medal at the Olympic Games. His chances cannot be better, since the 2012 Games are hosted in Wimbledon on grass: his favourite surface. He makes it to the semi-finals without dropping a set. However, Juan Martin del Potro challenges him to the limit. The Argentine dominates the match from the start and takes the first set. Roger is only able to turn it around during the second set and evens things out.

Both deliver a gripping duel in the deciding set, during which the chances of victory keep tipping back and forth between the opponents. After strenuous play of 2 hours and 43 minutes in the third set, Roger finally wins the second match point by the amazing score of 19-17. This match, total playing time 4 hours and 26 minutes, goes down in history as the longest ever Olympic tennis match.

At this point one can easily forget that the final is actually still to come - once again Roger's opponent is Andy Murray. After a good start and one failed break point chance, the match slips away for him completely at 2-2: he unfortunately loses all the subsequent games up to  0-5 in the second set. He gets a few chances again during the third set, but the Scot wants his revenge and secures the gold medal with his third consecutive ace. After the initial understandable disappointment, Roger is quick to point out that, considering his tournament progress, he did not lose gold, but in fact won silver and so has his Olympic medal.

To the USA as World Number One 
The stress of the tight tournament schedule forces him to cancel his participation in Toronto,  making the Masters ATP 1000 tournament in Cincinnati his next destination. 

Refreshed and rested, he outshines Alex Bogomolov, Bernard Tomic and Mardy Fish, reaching each round without losing a set. Not even his friend, Stanislas Wawrinka, can stop him in the semis and he goes on to play Novak Djokovic in the finals - for the first time again as the world number one. In an unparalleled fast start, Roger manages to end the first set 6-0 in only 20 minutes, with the Serb merely winning only 10 points. The second set is somewhat more even, but here too Roger has the upper hand. He beats Djokovic in a tie-break and becomes the only tennis player ever to win the Cincinnati title five times. He also rakes in his 76th tournament without losing a set. With a tally of 21 Masters 1000 ATP tournament victories, he equals Rafael Nadal's record. 

All of this means Roger starts as the top favourite in the US Open and he justifies this position in the first rounds: Donald Young and Björn Phau, and likewise, Fernando Verdasco, have no chance of stopping him. With Mardy Fish's withdrawal due to heart problems, Roger qualifies for the quarterfinals against Tomas Berdych. However, the Czech beats him in 4 sets, mainly because he makes an unusual number of unforced errors and fails to keep up his performance of the previous matches.

Due to his premature elimination, Roger decides to support Switzerland in the Davis Cup play-offs. Their position is successfully defended: the Swiss team beats Holland 3-1 on clay and remains in the World Group.

Not long after Roger once again meets his friend, Stanislas Wawrinka, on court, this time not as a doubles partner, but as opponent in the second match of the Shanghai Rolex Masters. Despite losing the first set, Roger is able to assert himself effortlessly in the deciding set. Following his 2-set victory in the quarterfinals against Marin Cilic, Roger faces Andy Murray in the semifinals, but fails to find his rhythm and in the end has to accept defeat in two sets.

Performance in Basel and Season’s End
At his home town tournament in Basel, Roger plays himself rapidly into the finals, beating Benjamin Becker, Benoît Paire and Paul-Henri Mathieu on the way, with Thomaz Bellucci being the only one to put up a challenge and take a set from him. Roger starts the final against Juan Martin del Potro by losing the 1st. set. The second set, too, is fiercely contested and Roger just manages to escape an early defeat. In the third set Roger comes very close to the decisive break point, but the Argentine shows no sign of nerves and in the end deservedly wins the match.  

Minor injuries force Roger to withdraw with a heavy heart from defending his title in Paris-Bercy. Because he cannot defend his ATP points total, his position at the top of the world rankings - for a record of 302 weeks - is taken back by Djokovic. 

Ending the season, he faces the ATP World Tour Finals as title defender. Because he previously qualified for the semifinals, his loss against Juan Martin del Potro in the third group match is of no consequence. He delivers a fascinating performance against Andy Murray in the semi-finals. Although the Scot enjoys an advantage at the start, Roger finds his rhythm just in time and takes the first set in a tie-break. Roger dominates his opponent in the second set and finally wins the match after 1 hour and 33 minutes.

In the final against Novak Djokovic, Roger, who already won this tournament six times, takes the lead in the first two sets. However, the Serb remains persistent, keeps fighting his way back and converts his first match point after more than two hours. Nevertheless, Roger's record of six Masters titles remains unchallenged and ahead of Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras with five each.

Roger, More Than an Athlete
Roger enters new territory at the end of the year, when, for the twelve-day Gillette Federer Tour, Roger travels to South America for the first time. He participates in some entertaining exhibition matches in Brazil, Argentina und Colombia. The opponents in his show matches are Thomaz Bellucci, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tommy Haas and Juan Martin del Potro. 

During his travels, he meets personalities such as the Brazilian football legend, Pelé, visits the impressive Iguazú Falls, puts his talents as football player to the test and enjoys himself on and off the tennis court after a challenging season. He is enthusiastically cheered on by thousands of fans wherever he shows up.

At the end of the year, Roger is voted the Fans' Favourite in a poll by the ATP World Tour Awards – for the 10th time in a row! Roger is also voted the greatest player of all times at the Australian Open by a resounding majority, even before his success at Wimbledon. After having received the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award seven times, he receives it once more in 2012.

Roger is also voted the Swiss Sports Personality of the Year. In front of his home crowd he is celebrated by a standing ovation at the end of 2012 for his magic tennis year, when – to everyone's surprise – he makes an appearance at the ceremony straight after his return from South America so as to accept the award personally.