Roger Federer, who turns 36 this August, became the oldest Grand Slam winner in 45 years when he captured his career fifth Australian Open title last month after an epic finals showdown against Rafael Nadal. How exactly does the Swiss master remain competitive against younger, hungrier and more athletic opponents?
During an interview with the Tennis Smash website, per Tennis World USA, the 18-time Grand Slam champion revealed the keys to a career that has stood the test of time. Federer has maintained an astonishing winning percentage of 86 since his first Grand Slam appearance in 1999, besides appearing in a grand total of 137 finals in all major ATP tour events (including 28 Grand Slam finals).
No. 1: Love for tennis
Federer noted that his deep-rooted love for the sport helps him endure through injuries. "(The first thing is to enjoy and love tennis), because if you don’t love it, then it’s just going to be too hard. I think that’s kept me going quite easily actually, because I know why I’m playing tennis. Deep down that’s really important."
No. 2: Smart schedule, ample holidays
Federer, who entered last month's Australian Open after a six-month layoff due to an injured left knee, revealed that he has afforded himself the luxury of picking and choosing events instead of playing the entire ATP tour like his younger compatriots. "I always make sure I have enough breaks, enough holidays, build up, tournaments, practice. The whole thing needs to come together.
"Maybe it’s tricky coming back the first couple of matches, but once you’re in, it’s a big advantage you had time off. It’s not easy to sit on the sidelines to see four, eight to 10 guys winning tournaments while you’re sitting at home working out. Working out doesn’t give you a whole lot of points," added Federer.
No. 3: Family life
Roger and Mirka, the Federers, have four children, namely Lenny, Myla Rose, Leo and Charlene Riva. Since marrying long-time girlfriend Mirka in 2009, Federer has often stressed on changing priorities and the importance of surrounding himself in a positive, family environment. "I definitely think (family life) has had a positive effect on me as a person and my life, as a player. My relationship with my wife, it’s been wonderful."
During last month's Australian Open, Federer revealed that his family was keen on an extended stay Down Under, via news.com.au. “With the late-night sessions, I had to sleep in the morning so they knew dad can’t be around that much in the mornings. They have been active, they get outside every day, and they told me many times: ‘Please don’t lose, daddy, we want to stay here for longer’. For the first time, today, one of my daughters said: ‘It is actually okay. I’m happy to go skiing in Switzerland now’".
After overcoming Rafael Nadal in a gruelling five-setter, Roger Federer hinted that 2017 could be his last year. Having said that, Federer is keen to take it day-by-day before putting a full stop on his extraordinary career.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 24, 2017