No athlete can outrun the aging process as even the greatest of stars succumb to worn-out knees or a broken-down back or any of the other ailments that can sideline a player.
It is this fact that makes the story of Swiss tennis player Roger Federer so astonishing. Over the weekend, Federer added another record to his already stellar list of accomplishments as he reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the 28th consecutive time. Federer has reached the elite eight of all four Grand Slams for the past seven years.
That mark is one better than U.S. tennis great Jimmy Connors and double the amount of Czech tennis legend Ivan Lendl, who is now third on the all-time list.
Federer’s streak goes back to the 2004 French Open where he lost to three-time French Open winner Gustavo Kuerten.
With all eyes in the tennis world locked onto Novak Djokovic during his own record-seeking streak of consecutive wins and on Rafael Nadal’s attempt to add a sixth French Open title, Federer has now somewhat been relegated to a third wheel.
He has even somewhat been written off as an aging star, who at the tender age of 29, will never win another Grand Slam.
Although tennis stars seem to have a much earlier cut-off date compared to athletes in other sports, I think some tennis fans have miscalculated Federer’s early demise.
Even if he can’t bring home another Grand Slam this year, his work ethic and commitment to the game should keep him in the running for tournament titles for years to come.
Federer has been counted out before as critics said in 2008 that he would never win another Grand Slam after he lost both the French Open and Wimbledon titles to Nadal.
However, the next year he won both those tournaments before eventually losing to then 20-year-old Juan Martin del Potro at the U.S. Open.
Fans should also not forget that it was just last year that he won the Australian Open over now fourth-ranked Andy Murray to begin the year and the ATP World Tour Finals over Nadal to end the year.
It’s also worth nothing that Djokovic’s last loss before his winning streak began came to Federer at the World Finals last year.
Perhaps it is because of all his combined accomplishments that people lose faith in Federer’s ability to win. He won so often early in his career that when something seems to go awry in his game, fans immediately begin to feel that all hope is lost.
People may also lose perspective in the amount of matches that Federer has played in because of the number of tournaments he has won, including a record 16 Grand Slam titles overall.
Federer has had to criss-cross different continents, play in various climates and time zones, and still be prepared to play every match.
Since his first tournament title in Milan, Italy, in 2001 to the upcoming Wimbledon championships this summer, he has been able to play at such a consistent level and with such success that it’s hard to argue that he is not one of, if not the, best player in the history of tennis.