From Wimbledon to the US Open, here's a gallery reflecting Novak Djokovic's magical feat of 10 Grand Slam titles.
There’s no denying that tennis nowadays is very different from what we typically associate with the classic idea of the game.
The surfaces are slower, rallies are longer, racquets are lighter, courts have Hawk-Eye, players share tweets, competitors are fitter and champions are notably older.
Three of the four US Open men’s and women’s singles finalists are 32 and above, and almost every tournament that comes by breaks a record or two in the age department.
Serena Williams is the oldest female world No1, Flavia Pennetta is the oldest first-time grand slam champion, Roger Federer is the oldest Wimbledon champion in 41 years… the list goes on and on.
Many see this is as a cause for concern regarding the future of the sport, considering there aren’t that many youngsters breaking through in a major way, while others feel that a tour dominated by veterans makes for repetitive storylines and boring scenarios.
But after witnessing the stunning runs of Italian duo Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci at the US Open, even the strongest of critics must realise how inspiring tennis is at the moment.
Tennis has had its fair share of teenage fairytales. Martina Hingis, Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova, Michael Chang… even Serena Williams. They all won their first majors aged 18 or less.
The sight of a teenager freaking out on a tennis court after winning a grand slam has been a familiar one and it has undoubtedly led thousands of youngsters to pick up a tennis racquet and dare to dream.
But what about what Pennetta and Vinci just did or what Serena and Venus Williams continue to accomplish? And what about Federer who is standing firmly as the second best player on the planet at the age of 34?
People like Hingis and Becker may have inspired young generations but it’s fair to say that the current veterans of the game are inspiring everyone no matter the age bracket.
Pennetta winning her first major at 33 – just in the nick of time before retiring from the sport – and Serena ruling the game and winning four slams in a row right before she turns 34, is giving millions of people the feeling that they could really accomplish anything at any age, not just on a tennis court but in any chosen career.
If Federer can get fitter and better in his mid-30s then why can’t we all strive to do more as we get older?
Per WTA: Hingis is the third active player to hit 20 major titles (singles, doubles, mixed doubles) – Serena has 36, Venus has 22.
— Tennis View Magazine (@TennisViewMag) September 13, 2015
We hear the phrase ‘it’s never too late’ quite often but it’s much more effective when we get to see it embodied in real life. Hingis once dumped her doubles partner Jana Novotna calling her “too old and too slow” when the latter had gone north of 30. Such a statement could never stand in today’s version of tennis. The 30-year-olds are putting everyone to shame.
That’s not to say having young champions in tennis is a bad thing but the older ones at the top are setting better examples in every way.
For every wild Nick Kyrgios and anti-handshaking Eugenie Bouchard, there are people like Pennetta and Vinci who shared a bench together after the former beat the latter in the US Open final, showing the world that friendship and respect can still reign in sport. There is a model competitor like Federer and an ever-evolving Serena. A tireless David Ferrer and a humble Rafael Nadal. Yes tennis is ageing but at the moment, that is a blessing not a curse.
Roger Federer hopes to ride a wave of emotion as he targets a sixth US Open title and 18th major today in a “straight shootout” against world No1 Novak Djokovic.
Federer, 34, is bidding to become the oldest champion in New York since 35-year-old Australian Ken Rosewall in 1970.
Playing in his 27th Grand Slam final and seventh at the US Open, Federer, the champion from 2004-2008 and runner-up in 2009, is a man reborn.
After losing his second Wimbledon final in succession to Djokovic in July, the Swiss veteran beat the Serb on his way to a seventh Cincinnati Masters crown.
He has also not dropped a set since his All England Club defeat, a stretch of 28 sets.
At the US Open, he has held serve in 80 of 82 games and has stunned opponents with his new ‘SABR’ (‘Sneak Attack By Roger’) chip-and-charge tactic.
His semi-final demolition of French Open champion and compatriot Stan Wawrinka was as brutal as Djokovic’s dismantling of
defending champion Marin Cilic.
The top seed allowed the Croatian just three games in the most lopsided semi-final in tournament history.
Federer also has the crowd on his side as he pursues his first Grand Slam title since Wimbledon in 2012.
“I definitely think if there would be more (support) on my side that will give me a lift and extra energy and momentum possibly. That could swing the match a little bit,” said Federer, aware that despite being world No1, Djokovic often struggles to command a crowd’s respect.
“But other than that, obviously Novak is a great player. Both of us have played in tough conditions, and you’ve got to play well to beat him. There is no question about that.”
Federer takes a 21-20 lead over Djokovic into the final. He also leads 3-2 in US Open meetings – including the 2007 championship match – but Djokovic won the last two, in the 2010 and 2011 semi-finals. Both those went to five sets.
Federer says he knows what to expect from Djokovic, claiming that Rafael Nadal was the player who tested him the most.
“With Novak it’s been more straightforward. That’s what I like about the rivalry. I feel like he doesn’t need to adjust his game as much,” said the Swiss.
“I think it’s just a straight shootout and that’s the cool thing about our rivalry. It’s very athletic. We both can handle each other – whatever we present to one another, and I think our matches, it’s very even.”
Had it not been for Wawrinka playing the match of his life in June to defeat Djokovic and claim the French Open title, the Serb could have been pondering history with a calendar Grand Slam. Wawrinka, having lost for the 17th time against his compatriot, believes Federer is playing some of his best tennis.
“If he keeps this level, he’s going to be tough to beat,” said Wawrinka.