In 4 days, the greatest tennis player of all time, still Roger Federer mind you, will be 30. In sports, including and even more so in Tennis, entering that 4th decade of your life is somewhat of a death sentence on ability and title winning. Roger Federer hasn’t won a title since January this year, one of those early Middle East (Qatar, his third title there) tournaments. He won the year end championships in London a few months earlier. His last Masters trophy (ATP 1000) was in Cincinnati, and his last Grand Slam title was way back in the 2010 Australian Open.
The last six Grand Slam titles? All won by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Andy Murray, one of only two players with a winning record against Federer (Nadal the other), beat Federer in last year’s Canada Masters (Rogers Cup) final held in Toronto. He’ll be defending it this year, beginning his defense the very day Roger Federer turns 30.
Speaking today on his age and the future, Federer didn’t show any signs of preparing to call it quits on his quest to add more slams to his trophy cabinet – Birthdays happen, they’re a part of life. I’d rather be 30 than 20, to be honest. In the preparation nothing changes. You listen to your body more. Your body has more matches in it. You just go with what you have.”
Federer still has plenty of tennis left in him, but not enough to win big. Never with enough consistency, including on grass, where Tsonga was the latest player to oust Federer from Wimbledon, something a few years ago only Rafael Nadal was able to do, after an epic, legendary battle. Federer these days can lose to anyone. He can beat anyone, but quarter final defeats aren’t that big of a surprise.
But that’s not stopping him from gunning for a sixth US Open title. An 18th (or maybe even 19th with Cincinnati) Masters to win would be nice, but there are bigger goals, and better things to adjust his efforts towards. At 30, no matter how you feel, your body can’t take the load as it once could and did. The last player to win a slam title and to be over 30 years old was Andre Agassi in the 2003 Australian Open. It’s a young mans game, and its rare to see old men, relatively old men, survive two weeks of tennis without losing.
Pete Sampras did it in 2002, at 31 years old, winning the US Open, his 14th grand slam title, his fifth US Open. He didn’t play again after that final, after beating Andre Agassi for one final time. Leaving the game like a champion, like the greatest ever (well he was at the time).
We had a post, about 8 months ago, about wishes for 2011. So far, a lot of wrong guesses and thinking. We did wish for a Federer-Nadal final, and for Federer to win. The two met at the Roland Garros two months ago, with Nadal, as usual on clay and Grand Slam finals in general when facing Roger Federer, had his way, winning his 10th. Well, Nadal has won all three matches in 2011 between the two. Federer’s last win over the Spaniard came in the Year end Championships. Nearly a year, and three matches gone by.
The problem for Federer is beating Nadal. He can handle Djokovic on his best day. I’m not sure he can handle Rafael. Problem is, being a third seed, he has to beat them both to win tournaments. Unless Andy Murray or someone else steps up and slays the Spanish Dragon. At nearly 30, even great players like Federer can’t do these things on their own.