Roger Federer: Why Age Is No Limitation for Tennis Great
With the first round matches at Wimbledon underway, people have already begun speculating on the next men’s champion. Most are looking past Roger Federer to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the respective No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, after their French final battle.
Some say Fed-Ex is getting too old to reclaim the No. 1 world ranking. People holding that opinion should be reminded that he’s playing at Wimbledon: home to six of his 16 Grand Slam titles. While Djokovic and Nadal may be a bit younger than Federer (about four and five years to be exact), Federer’s experience and past championship confidence give him a tremendous advantage at the All England Club.
Let’s take a look at the top five reasons why age is should not be a limiting factor for arguably the best player in tennis history to win his seventh Wimbledon title.
Age Is Just a Number
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Just because Roger Federer has reached the big 3-0 doesn’t mean that he can’t be the best once again.
Case in point: Consider Andre Agassi. In 2003, Agassi beat Rainer Schuettler, allowing Schuettler only five games over three sets to win the Australian Open at the age of 32. Two years later, Agassi made it to the finals of the U.S. Open, losing to—you got it—Roger Federer.
Bottom line, Agassi was older than Federer is now—if only by a few years—and was still able to pull out a Grand Slam title. Importantly Federer has surpassed Agassi with far more Grand Slam titles (16), and if that is any indication of how great a player Federer is, than Fed’s chances of winning another Slam title are very promising indeed.
Great on All Surfaces
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The great tennis legend Jimmy Connors once said, “In an era of specialists, you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist…or you’re Roger Federer.”
Breaking down his numbers, Federer is one of seven male players to win the career Grand Slam, and only one of three to do that on the three different surfaces. Furthermore, he is the only man in tennis history to reach the finals of each Grand Slam at least five times.
Federer is one of the toughest mental players in tennis, treating every match like a chess game. His experience has allowed him to memorize the strategies necessary for the various surfaces as well as his opponents' weaknesses and take down opponents mentally as well as physically.
Bottom line is that while some people say he is not physically as good as he was when he was in his 20s, his many grass court wins cannot be discounted.
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If you were to look up "perfect tennis strokes" in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Roger Federer. This Swiss champion is a graceful all-court player that can win off either side.
Let's break down each stroke.
Federer's forehand is one of the most accurate shots in the game. He gets incredible racket-head speed thanks to his whip-like motion adding some heavy topspin as well for consistency.
His backhand is a real weapon as well. Fed-Ex uses a one-hand stroke that gives him more range. When he's not hitting down the line winners with it, he's disguising well-placed drop shots.
Although he mostly stays on the baseline, Federer is just as comfortable up at net, where he can show off his effective volley skills and killer overhead smash on a weak lob. Federer looks more like an NBA player with his dunk-like overhead rather than a tennis player.
With strokes like his--graceful, accurate and fast paced—Federer's age shouldn’t pose a big role in this equation.
Finally, no one anticipates shot direction better than Federer. When facing the big servers, Roger routinely cuts their aces in half with his anticipation of ball direction.
Countless Number of Records
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Although Novak Djokovic may be the current No. 1 in the world, Roger Federer's reign as the best in tennis carries far more weight. Federer held the No. 1 ranking for 285 weeks—just one week short of Pete Sampras' record. During that time, he continued to compile the most Grand Slam titles in the history of tennis.
Let's compare that with Novak Djokovic. Djokovic has an impressive five titles to his name, but that's not even one-third of the titles amassed by Federer. Sure, Federer has been on the professional circuit longer, but it’s skill and savvy rather than just years that make the difference.
Strictly based on statistics, Federer's record places him as the greatest player of all time, and with his recent performances, he still looks capable of a big win.
Still Winning Tournaments
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For skeptics that believe age is a limiting factor for Roger Federer, simply look at his recent performances. So far in the 2012 Pro Tennis season, Federer has won four important tournaments in the Netherlands, Dubai, Indian Wells and most recently on clay in Madrid. What's more impressive—besides the fact they were on different surfaces—is that Federer took down the likes of Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray in the process.
While it’s true that he hasn't gone past the semifinals in a Grand Slam tournament this season, Federer is back on his favorite turf—literally—and should fare better at the All England Club.
My bold prediction for Fed-Ex is that after another meeting with Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, he will continue on to the finals against Nadal and leave Wimbledon the victor. Beware the wounded or aging veteran who has something left to prove to the world.