Roger Federer is back in the semi-finals at Wimbledon (Picture: Action Plus via Getty Images)The wait for a youthful men’s Grand Slam champion goes on.
All four of the Wimbledon semi-finalists are in their 30s, guaranteeing there won’t be an active ATP player under the age of 30 to have won a major by the end of this week.
Dominic Thiem – a two-time French Open runner-up – is the only man currently under the age of 28 to have even reached a final.
That won’t matter to ‘Big Three’ Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal – who are all primed to add another Slam to their vast collections at Wimbledon – or Roberto Bautista Agut, who hopes to become a first-time major winner.
Federer will take on great rival Nadal on Friday with half an eye on claiming his ninth Wimbledon crown – and 21st Slam in total – but took time to reflect on the shortcomings of the younger stars.
‘I think it’s definitely not a – how do you say – regular time in tennis in the men’s game because I don’t think we would have thought that Novak, me, and Rafa, all of us, was going to be so solid, so dominant for so many years,’ the Swiss said after his semi-final win.
Rafael Nadal continues to fight for Slam titles (Picture: Action Plus via Getty Images)‘I think that, number one, stopped a lot of runs from the younger guys. Number two, I’m not sure, were they as talented as Rafa, Novak, and myself and others? Maybe also not.
‘I think also the way the points are structured, they’re so far right in the draw that you have to go so deep as a younger guy that you also maybe lack your ranking to be top 4 or top 8 easier. I feel like there is sort of different levels to it.
‘If you’re top 32, that’s good at Slams. If you’re top 16, it’s good. Top 8 is another step. I feel like it’s hard to get into the top 8 and stay there, let alone top 4, just because there’s some guys in there that are very tough.
‘The only way to get in there at the moment, it seems like, if you win a Slam. Otherwise you need so many more points in the 1000s. Rafa takes care of the clay there. Novak is in every Masters 1000 on hard court. I float around.
Djokovic is a win away from another Wimbledon final (Picture: Kyodo News via Getty Images)‘You add [Andy] Murray to it, Stan [Wawrinka] to it, guys that made their move later on, [Juan Martin] Del Potro to it, you realise there’s not that much to get.
‘I think it’s a combination of many things. But it might all change again. Obviously the way the ranking system works, other things – I mean, I grew up in the bonus points. I don’t know if you remember those times.
‘If you beat, let’s say, No. 1 in the world, you got a hundred points at a slam, 50 points at another tournament. If you could make big-time results, you could all of a sudden just jump in the ranking much more. The following year you couldn’t defend those points if you didn’t have exactly the same draw.
‘It is what it is right now. I just think it’s kind of tough to get to the top because Novak and Rafa are still so, so good. It just makes it more difficult like that.’
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