Would Roger Federer’s retirement actually be good for tennis? Jordan Mortimer-Jones delves into the world of heresy…
Roger Federer is undoubtedly one of the finest sportsmen of the 21st century. His achievements on the court, coupled with the extensive charity work and role model behaviour he displays confirm as much.
But as much as it will be a sombre day when Federer finally hangs up his Nike headband, there are some positives that could come from it.
Federer was the undisputed king of the courts between 2004-2008. Holding the world number one spot for an unprecedented 237 consecutive weeks, he was simply untouchable.
However, the injury troubles he suffered in 2013, alongside the emergence of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray as supreme talents, led many to believe the Federer was over the hill.
Then came the resurrection that has brought about Grand Slams number 18, 19 and 20, all of them coming in the last 14 months. Granted his main rivals have suffered unfortunate injuries, but nobody foresaw this kind of revival coming.
While this has been a joy for the fans to watch one of, if not the greatest tennis players of all time enjoy one last moment (if you can call 14 months a moment), it has become predictable.
Without Federer, the fight for the Grand Slams will be more ferocious than ever as everyone tries to stake their claim as the next dominant force in the sport.
Which leads me onto point number two…
The next generation are emerging
There are plenty of young players currently occupying places in the top 50 in the world who would all welcome the chance to breakout by winning their first major.
Leading the charge is 20-year-old Alexander Zverev, ranked fifth in the world (highest rank of third, Nov 2017). Zverev just needs that one breakout performance like Federer had at Wimbledon in 2003. Before that tournament, Rog had never gone beyond the quarter-final at a major.
As it stands, Zverev has never gone past the fourth-round.
Slightly older players like Grigor Dimitrov (26) and Dominic Thiem (24) might also benefit when the man they call Fed-Ex stops delivering on the biggest stages. Neither man has yet reached a Grand Slam final, despite their obvious talent.
At some point there needs to be a passing of the torch from the old guard to the new. While in recent years there haven’t been many worthy of taking on the mantle of the world’s best, the current crop of youngsters certainly are.
It will make us appreciate his talents even more
“You don’t know what you have until it’s gone”. This saying couldn’t be truer in Roger’s case. Even though he’s lauded as the GOAT (Greatest Of All-Time) and respected worldwide, there is a sense that we won’t truly be able to appreciate just how astonishing he was and how effortless he made the game seem.
While the renewed competition and fresh faces at the pinnacle of world tennis would be refreshing for a while, we’d eventually start yearning for Rog to return.
And while there will never be another Roger Federer, that shouldn’t be looked on a bad thing. For if there was then that would make his achievements less special.
Instead, when that moment of pining after a lost love strikes, we can all curl up under a blanket and re-watch the epic Federer-Nadal 2008 Wimbledon final among his many other classics.
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