Roger Federer celebrated his 30th birthday in typical low-key fashion on Monday, but the Swiss tennis great has no intention of fading quietly away from the game.
With 67 career titles, including a record 16 Grand Slams, Federer has already proven he is a man for all seasons, but can he stand the test of time?
Federer will begin to answer that question this week at the Rogers Cup in Canada. Still No. 3 in the world rankings and an opponent others still want to avoid, Federer’s 30th hardly had the air of a retirement party.
Certainly, no one views this season as the end of the line for the “Federer Express,” but he is steaming into treacherous territory.
Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors and Federer’s childhood hero Rod Laver all added to their Grand Slam totals in their 30s, but more tennis careers have sputtered to inglorious ends than soared to new heights.
Federer spent 285 weeks at the top of the world rankings and Connors, for one, does not see any reason why the Swiss maestro could not be No. 1 again — if he is willing to pay the price.
“I think Federer, at 30 years old, still is young,” Connors told reporters. “Certainly, if he’s willing to put in the time and do what it takes, I don’t see why not [be No. 1 again], but now it’s not just one guy he has to beat. He has [Novak] Djokovic, [Rafael] Nadal, [Andy] Murray, a host of guys that are coming up and are looking for his scalp.”
“You have to look within yourself: ‘I was No. 1, I’m tired of being No. 2 or No. 3. It’s time for me to get back to where I belong.’ Then you sit down and you figure that out. Are you willing to do that?” Connors said. “If you’re willing to do that, then the work and everything that he puts in certainly will pay off.”
Federer won his first career title when he was still a teenager and now the debate begins over how many more titles he can take.
Blessed with type of skill and weapons that have largely prevented wear and tear on his body, fitness should not be a major issue anytime soon, Connors said.
However, with 16 Grand Slam wins, an Olympic gold medal, a bulging trophy case and bank account, motivation will be the key to Federer adding to his legacy.
“When you get older, that means you just have to work harder, put in the time,” Connors said. “Your life changes along the way. He has to remember the one thing that has gotten him to this point is his tennis.”