Roger’s ascension, as we know, is quite historical. He is the oldest man or woman to reach No.1 in the sport. He’s 36 years-old. Agassi, at 33, was the previous record holder.
But as so many are so quick to claim that this golden era represents the heights of the sport (tough to refute this entirely), we have to acknowledge the continued dominance of Fedal.
Throughout 2017 I argued that the year was truly cementing their legacies, if this connection could be any stronger than it already was. But of course this was the case. For one, Federer’s 2016-17 ownership of Nadal (ha ha ha ha ha) balances the kinship since Nadal, previous to this recent run and throughout their rivalry had owned him (ha ha ha ha ha).
The image above has, for me, two especially interesting features. First, for the most part, the rest of tennis history (the non-golden age) is represented pretty well there. All of this talk of longevity today, yet until yesterday and Federer’s recent accomplishment, only Nadal and the 2016 Murray (representing the golden age) have reached this select category.
One can see how prior to Nadal’s #1 claim at the end of 2017 (going belly-up in the process), Agassi was in a class all his own, really. And even Nadal’s ascension at 31 is quite short of 33. Kudos to Agassi. I still think the 2005 USO final is some pretty high-end tennis, looking back now even more: the previous ageless wonder against the future ageless wonder.
Secondly (remember: two especially interesting features of that above image), no Djokovic.
This, again, is an opportunity to remind everyone of how truly colossal was Djokovic’s collapse (what Mcshow has coined and tradmarked “Djokollapse”). I have clarified ad nauseam the historical context of this fall from grace.
He was ROLLING, held all four majors, had just turned 29 and no one could foresee this Fedal second-coming. Novak’s inability to figure-out a way to win that 2016 WTF, and maintain his #1 into the off-season, had massive consequences historically (WTFs, year-end #1 and #1 in general, not to mention the ever-important legacy confidence that Fedal are using to embarrass a young and insecure ATP). And here we are a year later and he’s still not back 100%. This is almost more than purely physical. That’s just my read.
If I was a betting man, if forced to lay a bet on Novak returning to the top, I would bet that he does. For Novak to spend the rest of his career in mediocrity or off-and-on injury just seems preposterous.
Be that as it may, the story now, still, is Fedal. Sure this is Federer’s day, winning his 20th major in Melbourne about a month ago, and now reaching world #1 in Rotterdam; but with the help of that image above and a simple look ahead at the ATP calendar (assuming Nadal can get his health back), what’s going to stop these two older gents (granted, Federer is quite a bit the elder in this narrative) from continuing this ridiculous reign?
The answer is, perhaps ironically, Mr. Djokovic.