It wasn’t but a few years ago that Roger Federer was the most dominant tennis player, and maybe the most dominant athlete, in the world. When he stepped on the court, there was no doubt he would roll through his opponents and come out victorious. He was like an immovable force that wouldn’t budge no matter what his opponents did to try and knock him off. He played every match with a consistent simplicity and confidence that we had never seen before. Simply put, you knew what you were getting when Federer was on the court. Nowadays, however, it’s a bit different.
Federer’s dominance in the tennis world has passed with the years and he is no longer the leading man when a major event comes around. We all knew this day would come, we just didn’t know quite when. It’s not too much of a surprise that is has happened now, though, considering Federer is a few months away from his 30th birthday. This is right around the same time another tennis great, Pete Sampras, started showing his age as well. Sampras, who won 14 majors in his illustrious career, won his final major in 2002 at the age of 31. Federer may have a few majors left in him, but he has started to stray away from the consistent champion he was once.
During his stretch of dominance, Federer won 16 of 27 majors and appeared in record 23 semi-finals matches. Federer winning majors became almost a regular occurrence. That is, up until a Spaniard named Rafael Nadal burst onto the scene and began to challenge Federer in a way that no one else before him had. Federer and Nadal had their fair share of battles through the years with Federer getting the best of Nadal early on in Nadal’s career. But here lately, the tides have turned and it seems as if Nadal is no longer in Federer’s shadow and the rivalry has started to shift in Nadal’s favor.
Nadal has won three of the last four majors and is currently No. 1 in the world and the top seed in the 2011 French Open, which he won last year. Nadal overtook Federer as the No. 1 player in the world back in August 2008 after being behind him at No. 2 since July 25, 2005, a span of 158 straight weeks. Before dropping behind Nadal, Federer was atop the rankings for an amazing span of 235 consecutive weeks. Then, in March of this year, Federer dropped yet another spot to No. 3. This time it was to Novak Djokovic, who has been on a tear lately and is threatening Nadal as the No. 1 player in the world.
But even with youngsters Nadal and Djokovic, both of whom are 24-years-old, making their rise to the top of the tennis world, you can’t discount a champion like Federer and what he still brings to the court. Even though he may be a little older and not quite as polished, he still knows what it takes to win. But what he does have is experience. He knows how to win and will mentally prepare himself to bring his best game to the court from here on out. We haven’t seen the last of Federer. He’s a champion for the ages his work isn’t finished quite yet.
Submitted by Steve Giles