Modern-day tennis fans can sometimes be an insufferable bunch. Roger Federer celebrated his 30th birthday yesterday, but it was quite depressing to see that a defining moment in his career—and life—could be mangled and twisted, portrayed as being his worst nightmare.
People say that, since 1973, just nine Grand Slams out of a possible 119 have been won by players over the age of 30. They may also argue that three of those nine wins—Agassi's and Sampras'—were achieved at a time when there was a considerable lack of strength in depth in tennis.
In defeating Djokovic in the French Open semifinal earlier this year, Federer proved he could compete at the top. In besting Nadal and the rest of the tennis world repeatedly—when he was written off across the board—towards the end of 2010, Federer again proved he was more than able to cut it at the top.
What more is needed from Roger? A check in the mail in return for the negativity being toned down? Or perhaps, you want the shirt he wore at the Australian Open Final in 2009, still soaked in tears, so you can laugh at him?
Now past the age of 30, what will be Roger Federer's most likely role at the top of tennis' hierarchy?
Give him his due. Federer has conceded that returning to the top of tennis may prove difficult: "Becoming No. 1 is something that is very difficult. You have to accomplish something that is very special to achieve. You have to be constantly at your best."
Still, there is absolutely no indication that winning Grand Slam titles is beyond him.
In the words of the poet Mark Twain: age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
Can Roger Federer overcome the disappointment of his losses this year and reclaim the throne? Perhaps not—it still doesn't mean the throne isn't rightfully his.
He does have those 16 Grand Slam titles...