It’s become pretty clear this season who the top man in pro tennis is. Novak Djokovic has reigned supreme in 2015, capturing three of the four Grand Slam titles and repeatedly showcasing his dominance as the #1 player. But what has happened to Roger Federer? 34 years young, the Swiss master has solidified his position as #2, and has even beaten Djokovic at recent tournaments, just not in a Major. Couldn’t he rise up and claim a last Grand Slam championship for old times sakes next year? In short, no he cannot. And the reason why is entirely down to his main rival these days, Novak Djokovic.
If only these two were the same age, what a glorious rivalry it could have been! As much as Federer dominated the 2000-2010 decade, Djokovic is ruling this 2010-2020 decade. The problem for Federer is that right as his age started to catch up with him, Djokovic entered his prime. And just as quickly, we’ve seen Roger’s ability to win a Major vanish. Djokovic is 6 years younger than Federer, and will probably continue to get better over the next two years. Federer will be lucky to still be playing two years from now.
The hard part for Federer is that the issue is entirely physical. In lesser tournaments where matches are best-of-three sets, Federer can still hold his own, and even won straight set Finals matches at the Cincinnati Open and Dubai Championships in 2015. But it’s in those grueling, 5-set Major Finals, after two weeks of hard fought matches, that Federer’s age becomes a factor. He simply cannot keep up with Djokovic. By the fourth set, Federer simply looks worn out, while Djokovic’s young legs continue to bounce around with precision. In these marathon-like affairs, Federer’s age is simply too much to overcome against a young slinger like Djokovic. The last 3 times they’ve met at a Major, Djokovic has won.
And so as we look ahead to another season with Roger Federer (who promises to be back), perhaps we’ll see a few more minor titles by the legendary Swiss man, but I sincerely doubt he’ll ever be able to wrangle another Grand Slam so long as he has to play against Djokovic, because for the first time in his legendary career, Federer has met his match!
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