August 24, 2013

Roger Federer

Approaching the U.S. Open where he's seeded only 7th, tennis great Roger Federer, now 32, appears well into the decline phase of his career. An odd thing about Federer is how much he looks like athletes used to look:
Up close, the thing you notice about Federer is how slight his 6-foot-1 frame is; he has stick-figure arms, and his legs are uncharacteristically thin for a professional tennis player. The contrast not only with the Popeye-like Nadal but also with Djokovic and Murray is striking. 

Contrast Federer's 1970s-looking body to #1-seeded woman Serena Williams, who is only a few weeks younger:
US Open: Serena Williams 'pumped up' by defeat to Victoria Azarenka


There is much speculation about whether Federer will soon retire, but there doesn't seem much reason for him to hang it up like a boxer or football player should after a last hurrah. Maybe he should if he's taking anti-anemia drugs like Epo for endurance -- in this golden age of men's tennis, matches last absurdly long -- but, in general, he looks like his profession agrees with him, just as golfers seldom see much reason to formally retire. The last golfer to flat out retire may have been Bobby Jones in 1930.

Federer needs two more major championship victories to break golfer Jack Nicklaus's record of 18, a record that Federer and his pal Tiger Woods have been chasing a long time. Tiger has been stuck at 14 since June 2008. Since Tiger last won a Grand Slam event, Federer has added five titles. 

Nicklaus didn't quit when he won #16 and #17 at age 40 in 1980. He kept grinding until he won #18 at age 46. And he still didn't retire then. I saw a fifty-year-old Nicklaus in the last round of the U.S. Open in 1990 cursing a blue streak when a birdie putt to move into contention for #19 didn't drop.

35 comments:

SGOTI said...

A bit too stoic and reserved for my personal game (I lean toward McEnroe to my embarrassment in 4.0 club tennis), but just a beautiful, beautiful game. All time great.

Anonymous said...

If you look at old tennis match clips, the players look like teenagers or something.

Anonymous said...

What's funny about Federer is that he's got a permanent perv smirk/expression on his face.

Dave Pinsen said...

What about downshifting to doubles competition?

Anonymous said...

For obvious reasons the sportsmen and the various people who benefit from their success aren't going to regulate them and I think that if there's anything the US gov has absolutely no business spending my money on it's regulating the dope content of atheletes' urine.

Would it be great if they all got together and decided not to dope? Sure, as great as all the traders getting together and agreeing only to work from 9-5. Let God's natural gifts for the field assert themselves and none other.

Heck, it would be great if whatever field each of us precious snowflakes were best at would have a guild so that we could have normal lives after putting in our natural 8 hours of calm labor.

But the real world is different and while the need for enforcing a social contract to prevent rape is obvious, the need to spend everyone's money in order to ensure that no precious football player harms himself with PEDs is less obvious. In fact, it's a travesty.

Anonymous said...

It would be neat if Federer took the route Andre Agassi took late in his career. Federer was such a talented, enjoyable player to watch while he was in his prime. He could be a magical player, hitting shots that were difficult to imagine.

Agassi had two acts to his tennis playing days, the early Agassi and then the more dedicated player seen toward the end. Early on Agassi had enough talent to become a top 3 player, bragging about eating poorly and not working out.

Then once his skills began to wane as he aged, his rankings dropped into the 100s. It appeared his playing days were over. Then Agassi reinvented himself. He hired an exercise weight trainer to become stronger and faster, going from around 140 to 190lbs in muscle growth. He also began to watch what he ate. With those changes he went on to become a top player once again while in his early 30s.

I would be surprised if Federer went the Agassi path though. Roger has a family with young kids. I imagine it would be difficult for him to dedicate the time that it would take to reinvent himself as Agassi did.

Likely Federer will go the Jimmy Conner route is my guess. He will play well at times, and in general enjoy himself in the tournaments.

Anonymous said...

"Nicklaus didn't quit when he won #16 and #17 at age 40 in 1980. He kept grinding until he won #18 at age 46."

The way I see it, no one should play golf before 50.

Anonymous said...

Federer is great. Love watching him play. Pure skill and graceful, natural agility and finesse.

Can't stand Nadal.

Anonymous said...

http://www.rogerebert.com/far-flung-correspondents/a-letter-from-egypt

Anonymous said...

OOOOOHHH, you went there!

Actually made a connection between Serena Williams and possible PEDS?

If you think Serena's taking something, check out some of the Women's Soccer players for further confirmation.

Goodness, post Lance Armstrong and baseball, it's getting so that we're going to have to actually start investigating other major sports for possible PED usage.

Anonymous said...

“When a dog bites a man that is not news, but when a man bites a dog that is news.”

Is this true? A woman sexually assaulting a man is rare but the news media don't cover it.

And if white on black violence were common and dog-bits-man, would the lib media ignore it? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Effortlessly athletic, he could do things in his prime like no tennis player I have ever seen, but he made them look utterly routine, just another day at the office. Regarding his musculature, Federer has enormous shoulders and upper back muscles, but because he is tall and lanky you don't notice until you see him bend over awaiting a serve. Federer was also very fast in his prime but he didn't look the part because he had a atypical very long stride for a fast tennis player who usually move with short, quick steps. Federer had the gait of a long sprinter, like someone who runs only 200/400 meter races. I heard that Swiss television once estimated his 0-30 meter speed was comparable to Olympic sprinters, which of course is all the distance you need in tennis.

Anonymous said...

"NY AG sues Trump, 'Trump University,' claims fraud"

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ny-sues-trump-university-and-its-get-rich-claims

"New York's attorney general sued Donald Trump for $40 million Saturday, saying the real estate mogul helped run a phony "Trump University" that promised to make students rich but instead steered them into expensive and mostly useless seminars, and even failed to deliver promised apprenticeships.

Trump shot back that the Democrat's lawsuit is false and politically motivated.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says many of the 5,000 students who paid up to $35,000 thought they would at least meet Trump but instead all they got was their picture taken in front of a life-size picture of "The Apprentice" TV star."

LOL!

Alexander Irwin said...

Of course, Agassi's fabulous growth in musculature was accompanied by a simultaneous loss of hair . . . just sayin' . . .

Anonymous said...

A couple of interesting links for you, Steve.

Guess who's black and who is white?


The message of modern TV

Anonymous said...

Of course, Agassi's fabulous growth in musculature was accompanied by a simultaneous loss of hair . . . just sayin' . . .

They say his nuts are the size of raisins now.

peterike said...

I find it very hard to think of anything at all on this earth I care less about then tennis.

And I'm tired of all the doping stuff. So what? It's sports. It's entertainment. Let them all dope. Just legalize it all, and then we'll have giant Hulk-like (aka Serena-like) freaks playing all the sports, and tennis balls will burst into flames when they are served and golf balls will bounce in the Sea of Tranquility.

Who cares?

Anonymous said...

"Federer is great. Love watching him play. Pure skill and graceful, natural agility and finesse."

Agree! I like that his body is normal-looking. I can't stand the "steroid look."

If I recall correctly, Federer's playing started to decline when his twins were born. I don't know if this had anything to do with his playing, but having young children can be quite stressful, although enormously rewarding!

- Anne

Anonymous said...

obviously steroids are being massively used by a lot of tennis players. especially the williams sisters.

let's not deny that.

Anonymous said...

I find it very hard to think of anything at all on this earth I care less about then tennis.

You're more of a show tunes kind of guy, aren't you?

Matra said...

The contrast not only with the Popeye-like Nadal but also with Djokovic and Murray is striking.

Actually, Djokovic is just as thin.

If I recall correctly, Federer's playing started to decline when his twins were born.

He's won four majors and a lot of smaller tournaments since then despite being older than all of the other top players. The only sport where having children seems to lead to immediate decline is Formula One.

Anonymous said...

"I find it very hard to think of anything at all on this earth I care less about then tennis."

Possibly you should find a blog for people who aren't curious about the world.

Sean said...

Steve doesn't understand how essential it is to take steroids ect to win at anything nowadays. He is stuck in the pre-juice era.

The interesting question: does everyone that juices up get the same improvements. My impression is that the tall rather skinny heavyweight boxers are the ones who get the most boosted by steroids ect. Without steroids Lummox Lewis and Klitschko (who was caught juicing as amateur) would have never have been world champs. Tyson would have lost out, relatively speaking, with universal juicing.

Andy Murray's transformed physique parallels the change in Lummox Lewis, though Lewis was about 25 when he started juicing. The naturally very muscular in tennis probably lose a relative advantage if they and everybody else take steroids .

There are some people who are very sensitive to steroids and get more from them, so even 'if' (though) everybody at the topmost level is taking them, the winners are probably somewhat different that we would get drug free.

peterike said...

Me: I find it very hard to think of anything at all on this earth I care less about then tennis.

Anonymous: You're more of a show tunes kind of guy, aren't you?

As a matter of fact, yes! I'd much rather watch a Sondheim musical than two people smacking a ball back and forth in endless micro variations on the exact same thing. Some people just have a higher tolerance for boredom I suppose.

Anonymous said...

The Williams sisters are built like men.

pat said...

I think you're wrong about him not looking athletic. What is your concept of an ideal tennis physique?

NBA centers must be around 7 feet tall. NFL interior linemen over 300 lbs. As so on for all mature competitive sports. The optimum Ninja Warrior for example is about 5'3" and 130 lbs. It think only jockeys are smaller.

McEnroe once commented that he was too small for almost any other sport. In fact he was better sized for doubles where he really dominated.

My first memory of tennis on TV was watching 'Big' Pancho and 'Little' Pancho. They had very different games but tennis seemed to have fewer size benefits and requirements than almost any other active sport.

A slimmer body means that you have less mass to reverse directions with. Schwarzenegger might be able to really murder the ball - but could he get to it? How nimble would he be in the fifth set?

Federer looks like a middle distance runner to me. In any case it seems to work for him.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Soccer seems to be the sport with the widest variation of body types at similar positions. Consider that two of the top strikers in the world are 5'7" Messi and the 6'5" Ibrahimović.

- Dave Pinsen

Anonymous said...

Soccer seems to be the sport with the widest variation of body types at similar positions. Consider that two of the top strikers in the world are 5'7" Messi and the 6'5" Ibrahimović.

Ibrahimovic is an outlier, no? I think most are relatively short.

Anonymous said...

Most are probably average height, but there have been taller top-level players than Zlatan (6'7"+).

- Dave Pinsen

John Mansfield said...

With recovery from disabling injury of players like Stephen Strassburg and Robert Griffin, it becomes a bit of a puzzle that getting a doctor to drill holes in your elbow or knee and rearrange the tendons is legitimate, but pharmacology crosses the line of fair competition.

Dave Pinsen said...

"but pharmacology crosses the line of fair competition."

Does it in all cases? I think most sports governing bodies are okay with diabetics using insulin, for example, but not non-diabetics using it for its anabolic effects. Seems a reasonable distinction. I don't know if they apply the same logic to other aspects of pharmacology, but it would make sense (e.g., allowing an athlete with low testosterone to take enough supplementation to get him up to normal levels, but not beyond that).

D. Jones said...

The Aussie, Rocket Rod Laver is still the greatest ever and a little known fact about Jack is that he finished second at majors a record 19 times.

pat said...

I just remembered Ken Rosewall. He was one of the most dominant players of his time. Yet he was tiny and frail looking. He was always called by the announcers 'Muscles'.

Federer looks like a husky giant compared with Rosewall.

Albertosaurus

Jahn Ghalt said...

Alexander Irwin said...

Of course, Agassi's fabulous growth in musculature was accompanied by a simultaneous loss of hair


No, he discarded his hair piece well before his "second career".

Jahn Ghalt said...

Anonymous said:

obviously steroids are being massively used by a lot of tennis players. especially the williams sisters.

let's not deny that.


Tennis has the one of the most intrusive drug-testing regimes in sports. Players are required to advise where they are at all times, the "knock" can come at any time at all hours and players must submit.

And, like all other zero-intelligence drug policies, players can be suspended for pleasure drug residues - few of which enhance performance.

Some relevant articles:

http://www.tennis.com/players/2010/04/faq-drug-testing-and-doping-in-tennis/21954/#.Uh2qFn_xJAA

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/2009-01-25-tennis-testingpolicy_N.htm

And one, which indicates that the drug-testing zealotry may may tapered off of late:



http://espn.go.com/tennis/story/_/id/9397854/tennis-lackluster-drug-testing-next

I did find a recent EPSN