Can Federer really keep going?

Feb 18, 2009

Roger Federer fans will howl a great big ‘yes’ to this question. I find myself having to agree, whatever might be said in the press. But there are certainly two sides to the argument and it’s important to look at them both before either a) writing Federer off or b) putting money on him winning a number of Grand Slams in the future.


The case for Federer not being able to continue lies mostly within his age. Players like Federer and Rafael Nadal run themselves into the ground for their sport; although the Spaniard’s style of play makes him all the more susceptible to injury, Federer is still a highly talented athlete. At the top of the game, he is required to take part in a high volume of tournaments. He may only be 27, but it’s obvious the physical stress has had an effect. A few years ago, Federer was nearly unstoppable. His record has begun to slip this past year, and already this season he has been blighted with a back injury left over from the year before. He announced yesterday that he was pulling out of the Dubai tournament and the Davis Cup, to let his back rest after an injury from last year hasn’t had time to fully heal. He will be taking it easy until the major tournaments; with such a rest you can’t help but wonder whether he’ll be at the top of his game to come up against his younger competitors. What with the teary end to the Australian Open, some could even say the mental pressure is getting to the traditionally stoic Swiss.


As mentioned previously, this is where I would put my vote. I believe that Federer still has a lot of life left in him; the latter years of a tennis player’s career is often studded with injury and breaks from tournaments, but it certainly hasn’t stopped previous tennis giants from doing their thing. John McEnroe, for example, retired from the professional circuit at aged 33, but made quite a comeback twelve years or so ago with impressive doubles results. So although the age factor will most probably hit hard in five years or so (if he is still playing professional tennis by then) there is no point over-estimating the affect that it has on his game. His persona on the court is more ‘experienced’ rather than ‘grandfather’. He’s still beating the younger whipper-snappers into shape, and fended off Rafael Nadal for as long as humanly possible before the Spaniard came barging past to take his number one spot.


So, Roger Federer may have lost the World Number One title, been stalled by injury, and not quite had the success of recent years, but he is still a world class tennis player. When he broke into tears on the court after losing at the Australian Open final, you couldn’t help but feel Federer saw his own fate staring at him in the face: he may never return to his former glory. That, however, doesn’t stop him from being one of the greatest tennis players of his generation. Statistically he may not go down in as many history books as he may like, but it really doesn’t change much for tennis fans world over. In my opinion, he may be out of the Davis Cup, and there’s questions over whether he can beat Nadal in a Grand Slam final again. But he’s Roger Federer. And that about says it all.


- SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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