Dubai, United Arab Emarites Roger Federer struggled to a first-round victory at the Dubai Open on Monday, the day he broke Jimmy Connors' streak of consecutive weeks at No. 1.
Federer, who broke Connors' 30-year-old mark with his 161st week at the top of the ATP rankings, defeated Kristian Pless, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3, in his first match since taking a month off after winning the Australian Open.
Federer's reign began more than three years ago, when he took over No. 1 on Feb. 2, 2004, after winning his second career Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. Federer said defeating Andy Roddick in the 2004 Wimbledon final was "a huge moment for me."
"Looking back, maybe that was the most important match for staying at No. 1," the Swiss star said during a conference call. "If he would have won that, I think he might have gotten it back."
Connors set his record from July 1974 to August 1977. Connors won eight Grand Slam titles in his 20-year career.
"I haven't heard anything from Jimmy," Federer said, laughing. "I don't know if he's going to talk about it. It's a great record to break, he's had it so long."
Connors now coaches Roddick, who won the first set against Federer in Shanghai in November and had three match points in the second set before falling, 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4.
"That actually guaranteed me to break the record today," he said.