Wimbledon champion Roger Federer believes he and the rest of the big five will continue to dominate despite their advancing years unless the young pretenders of the men’s tour adopt a more adventurous style.
Federer, 35, became the oldest man to win the singles crown when he triumphed for an eighth time at the All England Club on Sunday, continuing a career renaissance that has also taken in victory at the Australian Open in January.
Old adversary Rafael Nadal, 31, won the intervening grand slam when he scooped a 10th French Open last month, providing further evidence of the virtual monopoly of Federer, Nadal and fellow thirty-somethings Novak Djokovic, Sir Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka, who have accounted for 48 of the last 50 majors.
Federer admits he is surprised by the reluctance of the next generation to stray from the baseline, which he believes made it easier to add his 19th grand slam title without dropping a set.
“It’s frightening to me,” he said. “When I look at the stats and see the guy I’m going to face has played two per cent of serve and volley I’m like, ‘Okay, I know he’s not going to serve and volley’, which is great.
“They could choose not to play that way too, if the coaches taught them differently. You can easily get sucked into a mode where you don’t want to attack. But if you can’t volley, you don’t want to go to the net.”
Federer believes this approach leaves players reliant on winning “a slug-fest” with specialists such as Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. “Good luck if you’re 50 in the world,” he added. “It’s not so simple to take them out.”
The Swiss is in no mood to set a target for a final tally of grand slams, having already surprised himself by returning to major-winning form in 2017 following a five-year drought.
“I was very content at 17 so of course I was going to be happier at 18 and I’m even happier at 19,” he said. “I think for me it’s really about enjoying myself, staying healthy and then we’ll see what happens.”
Federer revealed on Monday that he had celebrated until daybreak following the traditional Wimbledon champions' dinner.
“My head is ringing. I don’t know what I did last night – I drank too many different types of drinks, I guess,” he said.
“After the ball we went to a bar and there was about 30 or 40 friends there. We had a great time. I got to bed at 5 and I woke up and I didn’t feel good. The last hour I have finally felt somewhat okay again. But we had a good time.”