Recently, hearts were broken all over the world -- Roger Federer got married. It wasn’t as if it wasn’t expected. Federer had been with his girlfriend since the age of nineteen and was quoted as saying that she was the best thing to happen to him. She obviously was doing something right. He had had the most phenomenal years of domination in the history of tennis for four years. Even in what the press was calling his “mediocre years” of 2007 and 2008 he was regularly making it to the finals of Grand Slams. And I was following his career every step of the way and enjoying his years of dominance. Whatever contributed to his continuation of that dominance was fine by me. It was a most enjoyable ride!
Imagine my dismay when the stories begin to circulate about married tennis players. Apparently there is a school of thought that believes things begin to go downhill when a male tennis player ties the knot and/or begins to have children. For some reason the numbers don’t support longevity or success in the sport once the knot is tied.
Oddly enough, when Pete Sampras was still playing, soon after he got married the stories circulated that his wife was the reason he wasn’t winning tournaments. Never mind that at the time Pete married, he was somewhat past his prime and the inevitable began to happen – younger, stronger and hungrier players were nipping at his heels. Pete was understandably hurt by such stories because he was forced to defend both his wife and his inability to win the big ones anymore. I believe one of the main reasons Pete stayed in the sport and won his fourteenth Grand Slam (the US Open in 2002) was on the urgings of his wife who had faith in him. She believed that he was still capable of winning the big ones and her faith in him was rewarded. Pete won Grand Slam number 14 largely due to the encouragement of his wife. I would hope that Federer at 13 Grand Slam titles (and counting!) would have a similar desire to prove his nay Sayers wrong. He and Pistol Pete have so much in common – Pete also was stuck on unlucky number 13 Slam for a long time until he finally won number 14.
There is hope for Federer – he knows how to make it to the finals of Grand Slams having made 18 finals between the years 2003 – 2009 so he knows how to peak for the Slams. Ivan Lendl was the major over achiever having made 19 Slam finals (the record among male players) in his career, so I have faith that Federer at the age of 27 (going on 28) can continue to have success at slams.
Here’s a tally of how some of the top male players fared after they got married:
· Jimmy Connors – 3 Slams after marriage
· Ivan Lendl -- 1 Slam after marriage
· Stefan Edberg – 1 Slam after marriage
· Boris Becker – 1 Slam after marriage
· John McEnroe/Lleyton Hewitt -- zero slams after marriage
Andre Agassi is the notable exception to the above players. He alone can tell Roger how he managed, perhaps. Agassi won 5 of his Grand Slams during which he was married twice AND divorced. He won two of those slams at the age of 29 and his last slam at 33 years of age.
I’m not going to believe that Roger Federer can’t win the big ones until he stops making it to the final day of a Grand Slam. He’s still a contender in my eyes. Roger keep on making history out there. Here’s one fan that believes you have many more Grand Slams to win. Go out and prove the nay Sayers wrong.