Roger Federer says he's only 'midway' through his tennis career

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It must be a scary thought to the other players on the ATP Tour that Roger Federer thinks he's only "midway" through his career. In an interview with Londay's Sunday Times, Federer said that he plans to play past the 2012 Olympics and hopes to extend his playing days long enough so that his infant twin daughters can see him play.

"I'm midway [through my career]. It feels like the second part of my career right now, although I am trying to avoid saying that because the second part sounds like ‘neehhhhrrrrr' [motions straight down]. You can definitely play your greatest tennis until 32 or 33, it's just a matter of how you look at it. I've always been a big believer in looking at the big picture. It's not about, ‘What will we do tomorrow?', it's about, ‘How will my life and tennis look in the next five years?' And I still have the same vision, so that's going to help me."

Federer turned 28 in August so, by his math, he could still be on top of his game through 2014. With 15 Grand Slams already to his credit, could his unspoken goal to top Steffi Graf's all-time modern record of 22 Slams? Graf (whom I now want to call "Stefanie" after reading Andre Agassi's autobiography) had a prime that lasted nine years, but she started winning Slams much earlier in her life than Federer did. For Federer to reach her, he'd probably need to win six of the next 12 and then hope to win another one or two in the twilight of his career.

It sounds daunting, but are you going to put anything past Federer? His last two years at the Slams have been considered disappointments, yet he's still won three of eight.

Like his buddy Tiger Woods, Federer's unprecedented string of success set such unrealistic expectations that mere greatness seems ordinary. When Tiger goes a year without winning a major (like he did in 2009), people ask if his season was a failure. Federer won two this year, but he loses to Del Potro at the U.S. Open and it causes buzzing that his game is on the decline. Can't a guy lose a match every now and then?

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