Australian Open 2012: Roger Federer and 10 Veterans Fading Quickly
Roger Federer is starting to fade quickly as age catches up with him. With a new breed of younger stars coming through, it's not just Federer who is finding it hard to keep pace.
These veterans have all had their day in tennis. But now they are desperately clinging to what form they have as they fade away into tennis obscurity.
Some will keep playing until they can play no more, whilst others will take the easy option and retire when things don't go their way. Fact is, these guys aren't going to win anything the way things are going.
11. Roger Federer
Roger Federer is quiet possibly the greatest player there has ever been. But that isn't stopping his game from fading fast.
Now in his 30s, Federer is now two calender years without a Grand Slam victory. Even his performances in regular tournaments throughout the year has been well below what we expect from Federer.
His big strength right now is his schedule management. He proved this at the end of last year, when he dominated the season ending run.
Without having the advantage of everyone else being tired Federer is fading fast. Still comfortably a top 10 player, for this year at least. But for Federer that is not what we expect.
10. Jurgen Melzer
Jurgen Melzer had a great start to 2011 as a singles player and made it into the top 10 for a career high ranking of eighth.
Unfortunately the second half of the season saw Melzer fade rapidly, and he ended the season outside the top 30.
Melzer will continue to fade quickly in 2012. We might well see him at the Tour Finals again, but it will be as a doubles player and not in the singles.
9. Nikolay Davydenko
Nikolay Davydenko has had an incredible career, winning at least one tournament for nine consecutive years. The Russian has reached as high as number three in the rankings, but those days are well behind him.
Now aged 30, Davydenko is starting to fade away from the top of his game. Sliding down the rankings enough to be outside the top 50 going into this years Australian Open.
Davydenko struggled a lot in 2011, having two terrible runs of very early exits either side of a lone championship in Munich.
It would be a great achievement if Davydenko manages a win this season, extending his run to 10 seasons. I hope that he does, but the way he is going, it probably won't happen.
8. Mikhail Youzhny
Mikhail Youzhny is another veteran fading away into tennis history without a Grand Slam victory. The former top 10 player is famous for his temper tantrums, which on one occasion saw him split his own head open.
Youzhny seems to have lost the speed and strength needed to compete in the best tournaments around as a singles player. We can expect in 2012 to see him concentrate a little more on his doubles play.
7. Venus Williams
Venus Williams has not been at the very top of her game for a while, but this year she will really start to fade a lot.
Unfortunately, this is not the fault of Venus herself, as illness has a major effect on the Autumn of her career.
Venus pulled out of the US Open in 2011, and has recently withdrawn from the Australian Open as a result of Sjogren's syndrome.
Hopefully we will see Venus on more than a few occasions this year, but it is hard to see her making it back up the rankings.
6. David Nalbandian
David Nalbandian was part of the Argentinian team that reached the final of the Davis Cup in 2011. Away from the Davis Cup however, Nalbandian did not have a great year.
He failed to make a final appearance after his season opening tournament and suffered from injury problems throughout the year.
Surgery on muscular problems along with a hernia slowed Nalbandian down a lot. Unfortunately things didn't get better after the surgery, and the Argentine is finding himself fading quickly, sliding down the rankings as he goes.
5. Nadia Petrova
Nadia Petrova will turn 30 later this season and she says goodbye to her 20s, she will be saying goodbye to her chances of winning on the tour.
Reaching as high as third in the rankings a few years ago, Petrova is now fading away out of the top 30.
A disappointing year as a singles player in 2011 will be repeated again in 2012, with potential success on the doubles court the only comfort for the Russian.
4. Serena Williams
Serena Williams is one of the most powerful female tennis players there has ever been. Probably the most powerful. But that power no longer strikes fear into her opponents like it once did.
Injury and illness has been hard on Serena in the past couple of years, and it shows no signs of letting up in 2012. Already withdrawn from her season opening tournament, things are not looking so great for Serena.
A new crowd of energetic and youthful women has taken the stage, and they seem to have no fear when it comes to Serena.
Expect an average season from her in 2012, as oppose to the Grand Slam winning extravaganza we have become accustomed to.
3. James Blake
James Blake provided the tennis world with an inspirational story when he returned from a broken back in 2005. Since then Blake has proven he is a very good player, but failed to hold down a place in the top 10.
Now aged 32, things seem to have caught up with Blake, and his performances have deteriorated quickly.
He did finish 2011 a lot stronger than he started, or indeed continued for most of the year. But that was not enough to get inside the top 50 players in the world.
Blake is fading quickly and is one veteran who we may not see on the tour at all after 2012.
2. Radek Stepanek
Radek Stepanek has been around for over 15 years as a professional. Always a solid performer, the Czech star has always been consistent in terms of results without being spectacular.
He has however started to fade significantly. 2011 saw Stepanek go out in the first round of eight tournaments over the course of the season.
Another player who will really struggle to make an impression in singles play, but who will likely concentrate on playing doubles.
1. Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick has not been enduring the most prosperous times in his career recently. The American superstar, who has earned over $20 million in prize money looks to be fading away quickly.
Results have not been going for him, and it looks as if the days of Roddick winning multiple tournaments are over. Certainly his chances of winning another Grand Slam seem to have gone altogether.
Roddick always used his serve as a major part of his game. It is was a great serve. But now as that serve starts to let him down a little, especially against higher level opponents, Roddick is fading fast.
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