“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain said it, and Roger Federer is living up to it.
In tennis years Federer is very much the elder statesman, at 35, but he’s proving that age is no barrier to success. The Swiss bounced back from a barren five-year run at the majors to clock up grand slam title number 18 at the Australian Open earlier this year. He went on to dominate the North American hard court run, before opting to take the whole of the clay court season off.
Never a fan of clay, the wise mind of Federer felt attempting to stop Rafael Nadal in Paris was mission impossible – in fairness not even Tom Cruise could have pulled that heist off – so he put his feet up at home with Mirka and the kids and turned his focus to his beloved grass.
Tommy Haas inflicted a rare defeat on Federer at the Mercedes Cup, but normal service was resumed in Halle as he cruised to the Gerry Weber Open title without dropping a set.
It was a statement of intent, a reasserting of his authority, and it made the bookmakers sit up and take note. Federer is now the new favourite for Wimbledon. He’s chasing title number eight at the All-England Club and 188BET have cut him to 3.20 to achieve it.
In the weeks that preceded the French Open, Nadal’s price contracted with every match he played in the lead up to the event. Federer’s price has contracted on the back of his win in Halle and it could yet shift again before Wimbledon gets underway next Monday.
No-one is quite sure what sort of shape Nadal will be in come Wimbledon, he’s said in the past that grass is not great on his knees, and if he is not in top trim then the challengers look thin on the ground. Andy Murray needs to find form and fast; a similar comment applies to Novak Djokovic who has looked a shadow of his former self for the past 12 months.
Federer has been playing some of the best tennis of his career, at 35. He will be 36 in August, but he’s handing out lessons to players 15 years his junior.
In Halle on Sunday, the 20-year-old Alexander Zverev, one of the rising forces in the game, was weighed, measured and found wanting by Federer.
Federer broke Zverev to love in the opening game and played front-foot tennis throughout the match. That has been his modus modus operandi during his brilliant year to date.
Federer’s record in 2017 is absolutely phenomenal. He has played 27 matches, losing a mere two and winning four titles in the progress.
He will put the finishing touches to his Wimbledon preparations in private, but he looks primed to make a bold bid to get his hands back on the title he covets more than any other.