ATP Rankings : Sampras-Federer age comparison
Top 10 rankings
Federer clearly enjoyed a quicker climb from first Top 10 entry to No. 1. He takes the last 10 hurdles in just 1,5 year, Sampras needs almost 2,5 years. Sampras jumps from No. 12 to No. 6 after 1990's US Open. He enters Top 10 about 20 months younger than Federer, who spent a lot more time between Top 20 and Top 10 (see the last graph on this page). One month later, Sampras already reaches No.5, two years younger than Federer at his first No. 5 ranking. But during an entire year, Sampras was unable to climb higher than No.5. Federer reaches the No. 4 spot already 42 weeks after his 1st Top 10 entry, Sampras only after 70 weeks. An overview of the evolution of the margins :
- at the No. 4 spot, Federer narrowed the gap to one year,
- at No. 3, Sampras is 1,5 year younger,
- at No. 2, the gap is less than one year.
Federer becomes No. 1 for the first time only 10 months older than Sampras...very close to the margins they had when entering Top 100 & Top 20.
Enter Federer's impressive 237 weeks No. 1 streak from his 22,5 until his 27th. In the same time span, Sampras gets kicked from the No. 1 position several times. But on the other hand, Sampras never dropped out of Top 10 while Federer did suffer one Top 10 exit (to No. 13 and No. 14 for 10 weeks).
Both players have slightly similar reigns since their first No. 1 position. They enjoyed about 7 years during which they were No. 1 most of the time. Sampras suffered more - and earlier- interruptions, but these were shorter than Federer's single exile which lasted almost one year. After the 7 years of domination, a more serious exile followed in which both players suffered a Top 3 exit : Sampras to No. 7, Federer to No. 4. After this exile, both players recaptured the No. 1 spot. Sampras realised his last 10 weeks as No. 1, after which his irreversible Top 10 exit followed already one year later. Federer recently collected another 5 weeks (and is still going). While Sampras had already exited Top 10 at the age of 31, Federer's Top 3 exit (let alone his Top 10 exit) doesn't seem to be very near, quite on the contrary.
Federer enjoyed one more year at the Top : while he was one year older than Sampras at first No. 1 position, he's almost 2 years older at his last (?) No. 1 position. Federer is in the Top 3 without interruption for more than 8 years, half a year longer than Sampras. But Federer's domination really becomes clear when considering he's been in the Top 2 without interruption for almost 7 years. The first time he exited Top 2, he was almost 29 years. Sampras was pushed back to No. 3 at 24 already and his longest uninterrupted Top 2 streak lasted never more than four years.
On the complete career graph we see Sampras leading the race from his early years on:
- at the age of 17, he was ranked No.208, Federer No. 679,
- the difference gets smaller at their 18th birthday, and Federer even gets ahead between their 18th and 19th birthdays, allbeit for a few weeks only,
- at their 19, Sampras clearly is ahead again.
From then on, the differences again get smaller, but not always less significant : while Sampras reaches Top 10 at his 20th and Top 3 around his 21st birthday, Federer at those ages remains stuck just outside Top 10. Federer is unable to close the gap until after his 22nd birthday when he reaches the No. 1 position. From, then Federer stays on top of Sampras.
Check out the other graphs further below for details on their careers' segments.
Climb to Top 100
Sampras reaches ATP Top 100 a few months after he turns 17, Federer a few months after his 18th birthday. The graph above clearly shows Sampras' earlier and bigger jump. At 16,5 years, he climbs from No. 893 to No.301 in just one week. Federer was the youngest player ever to reach Top 1000 but until his 17th, he is unable to make any significant progress. After his 17th birthday, he even sinks below his initial ranking. He needs 2 big jumps to bring him to Top 300, which he reaches one year older than Sampras.
Between 17 and 18, Federer starts to approach Sampras' rankings :
- Federer needs only 15 weeks to climb from No.303 to No. 129
- Sampras climbs from No.301 to No. 127 in 37 weeks.
Sampras then jumps to No. 97 and enters Top 100 almost a year younger. The last 26 hurdles to Top 100 might have taken Federer longer, but he became a 'steady' Top 100 player just a few months older. Before his 18th, Sampras wouldn't make any deep progress and drops out of Top 100 a few times. Federer suffered only one Top 100 exit (just a few months after Sampras' final Top 100 exit) and his declines were less significant. At the age of 18, Sampras is ranked No. 94, Federer No. 103.
Top 100 to No. 10 rankings
Between 18 and 19, each player in turn is ahead. After their Top 100 exits and their 18th birthday, both players get relaunched to the middle regions of Top 100, resulting in the only 2 months Federer was ahead of Sampras :
- Sampras drops from No.56 to No.85 in a few months' time,
- with his 2nd Top 100 entry, Federer is launched from No. 106 to No.57 in just 1 month.
Both players would dive into ATP Top 50 at about the same age (18,5), where Sampras immediately makes an incredible climb from No.42 to No. 17 in 5 weeks. Federer needed more than 1 year to climb from Top 50 to Top 20. Sampras enters Top 20 almost 1 year younger (18,5 vs Federer 19,5). At the age of 19, Sampras is No. 12, Federer No. 40.
To close off, some words on the methodology used for these graphs. For both players, we created chronologic graphs based on the rankings found on the official ATP website, which we completed with data from other sites. Then we created individual age-based graphs by applying the players' different ages to the graphs at the 1st weekly rankings published after each birthday. Since Federer was born almost exactly 10 years after Sampras, merging these graphs wasn't very hard. For the individual graphs, check our ATP Rankings section.