A week can be a long time in tennis. Two can feel like an eternity.
Just over two weeks ago, the great Roger Federer said goodbye to his coaches, to his on-court friends, to his fans, to the world and to tennis.
At around the same time, little known Marc-Andrea Huesler was sitting watching his idol retire, licking his wounds from a straight sets last-16 defeat in San Diego to Daniel Galan.
But fast forward a fortnight, and Huesler is a first-time ATP champion, at a career high ranking of World No. 64 and the new Swiss No.1 player of the men’s game.
The 26-year-old won his maiden tour title when he won the Sofia Open on Sunday, stunning teenage hotshot Holger Rune in two blistering sets of tennis.
En route to the final he toppled some much fancied players, such as Pablo Carreno-Busta in round two and Lorenzo Musseti in the semi-finals.
Huesler started 2022 at World No. 186 but has seen a strong and steady rise through the rankings to reach the top 100.
And the man from Zurich told ATPTour.com that everything he is building in the sport can be traced to one man, his idol Roger Federer.
He said: “It’s hard to fill his (Federer) footsteps for sure. He’s done so much for the sport.
“Watching him play on TV, in Davis Cup, no matter where, I honestly didn’t know half the time where he was playing, but he was basically just winning and made it look so easy.
“He just made the sport so interesting for so many people around the world who were just glued to the TV whenever he was playing. That’s still the case now."
Huesler was brought back down to earth with a bump on Wednesday when he lost in two to Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori but insisted he can be the man to replace the hole left in Swiss tennis fans thoughts now that his idol has hung up his racket.
"Obviously it’s not going to be easy [following in his footsteps]. There are going to be Swiss people who [have been] spoiled by his results," Huesler continued.
"But on the other hand, now I also won an ATP tournament, so maybe some people will change their mind. Anyone who knows something about tennis knows that it’s not just a walk through the park to get to the Top 100. I feel like we have a couple of really, really good young Swiss players who are coming up the rankings. And probably also them seeing what I can accomplish pushes them on as well."
Huesler tops a list of emerging tennis pros from Switzerland such as 20-year-old Dominic Stricker - ranked at No. 133 – who has won two ATP Challenger titles this year.