Roger Federer – the greatest men’s tennis player of all time – is once again at the top of the ATP rankings, at the age of 36. With many of his (younger) rivals breaking down with injury, how long can this titan stay on top?
Federer has enjoyed a renaissance in his career in the last year, winning 3 out of the 5 Grand Slam tournaments since the start of 2017. Before his Australian Open title in January 2017 his last win at a major tournament had been in 2012, at Wimbledon.
- Grand Slam titles (20);
- Grand slam finals reached (30);
- Cumulative time spent as World number 1 (306 weeks and rising);
- Consecutive weeks as number 1 (237); and
- Oldest ever number 1 (36).
With all of these achievements, we have to wonder when he will stop – and his rivals have to pray for the day. The one title he doesn’t hold is an Olympic gold medal for singles tennis. He has, however, won gold in doubles with Stanislas Wawrinka in Beijing in 2008, and silver in the singles in 2012 in London.
It is possible that Federer is aiming for one last tilt at Olympic glory in 2020, although this may be a year or two too far away. That said, it looked like his career was over in 2016 so time clearly does not have the same effect on Roger Federer as it does on lesser players.
His game play is far less reliant on punishing baseline rallies than most players. This could explain why tennis does not seem to have the same punishing effect on Federer’s body as it does on other top players.
With his younger rivals Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all out of form or cruelled by injury, there doesn’t seem to be anyone on the horizon who can end Federer’s second coming. Even if he does stop being so dominant, Federer may still keep playing.
Over a four and half year period after Wimbledon 2012 he didn’t win any major tournaments, and yet Roger Federer kept playing tennis. He seemed to be playing because he enjoyed it, and perhaps because he felt he still had a few more titles in him.
As long as he still thinks he can compete at the top level, expect to see Roger Federer playing in major tennis tournaments. How long that will be is anyone’s guess – people have been calling him too old since 2010!
In an era of tennis dominated by just a few great players, Roger Federer stands out as the greatest of them all. When he does finally decide to stop playing, it will be on his terms – and no-one is prepared to try and predict when that will be.