There has been much speculation as to why Roger Federer has fallen from the ranks of the number 1 tennis player in the world. Has he lost interest? Have his competitors solved the equation to beat him? Is he too old to compete with the up and coming talents? These are a few of the questions that come to mind when wondering how a once tennis king has fallen so hard and so fast. We’ll attempt to answer these questions one by one to get a grasp on what events may have led to Federer’s fall.
Many believe that Federer has simply just lost interest in the game. Although saying he is not interested may be a stretch, his priorities have certainly shifted since his dominant days. After having children on July 23rd, 2009, Roger said “I have children depending on me. It’s not all about me anymore.” Since this statement, Roger has underperformed for his standards having only won 1 grand slam (2010 Australian Open). While his life has changed since that day, his tennis game certainly has as well.
Federer’s outstanding play throughout the years has put a huge bull’s eye on his back from competing players on tour. Since his rise to number 1 in February of 2004, his play has seemingly stayed unchanged. However, his opponents have gained tremendous ground. In 2006, Federer held the number 1 spot by more than 4,000 points. Since then, Nadal and Djokovic have overtaken him from the number 2 spot and the number 16 spot. Novak has catapulted into the top position beating Federer 3 out of the last 4 times, only losing on the red clay in France most recently. Nadal has all but owned Roger as of late taking 4 of the last 5 matches. These younger, athletic players seemed to have found a way to solve Federer’s game.
The last looming question is whether or not Federer is just too old to compete with the more powerful, younger talents that seem to be taking over the game. The ATP boasts a top ten list that includes only one player who has reached the age of 30. You guessed it, Federer is the only one. Within the top 20 only Jurgen Melzer is also 30 years old. He seems to have lost about half a step from the baseline and that doesn’t bode well when he’s up against the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Although he may be a bit slower, his strokes are still some of the best in the game and that’s why he continues to hang around the top 3 in the world.
Will he ever be number 1 again? My guess is no, but there’s no questioning his desire to do so. Federer’s fall has been a combination of all three things. Priorities in his life have changed, his competitors train and prepare to beat him, and he just isn’t as young as he used to be. Maybe a star is falling, but there’s no doubt he made his mark on the game of tennis.