ROGER FEDERER finds himself in the familiar position today of being both champion of Wimbledon and top of the world rankings.
In achieving both feats, the 30-year-old from Switzerland has earned separate entries in the tennis record books, tying William Renshaw and Pete Sampras on seven Wimbledon titles and matching Sampras' unsurpassed tally of 286 weeks at number one. He is guaranteed to stretch that to 287 weeks in seven days' time.
Yet Federer knows there was a widely held belief that his career was in irreversible decline, his grand slam title prospects slim and chance of getting to number one again gone.
The developing rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was perceived to be pushing Federer out to the fringes, but he has been terrifically consistent since last year's US Open and the latest Wimbledon title justified his unflappable self-belief.
Until his four-set triumph over Andy Murray yesterday, it had been two-and-a-half years since his last major title, when Murray was also the victim at the Australian Open.
Looking at his barren grand slam run, Federer said: "I see it more as a stepping stone, a period I had to go through. To win 90 per cent of my matches throughout the year is impossible every single year.
"But I knew how close I was for the last few years, and some people didn't quite see that. But I knew and I think the belief got me to victory."
Nadal, Djokovic and Murray will again be likely challengers to Federer at the US Open in New York later this summer, where the rejuvenated man from Basle will be seeking an 18th slam, and also at the Olympics in SW19 later this month.
He said: "I think, for a change, it's going to take much longer to understand what I was able to achieve. It was crazy how it all happened under the circumstances. I played terrific."