Today Roger Federer is 36 and 70 days, and at the weekend defied Father Time yet again by whupping the world number one Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 in 70 minutes of supreme Fed Express tennis at the Shanghai Masters final.
Federer broke Nadal in the opening game, broke him twice in the second set, and lost only eight points on his own serve with 20 aces.
It was a case of the good guy dismantling the sour Spaniard, who begrudgingly shook Federer’s hand, and the central umpire.
But the story is the longevity comparison between Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer.
It’s virtually impossible to fairly compare the two as it’s not a level playing field.
Rosewall was one of the early signatories to Jack Kramer’s professional troupe between 1957 and 1967, making the Australian ineligible for Slams which were exclusive to amateurs.
As a result Rosewall missed 40 Slams and it would be reasonable to assume he would have won at least 15, taking his career tally to 23 – Federer holds the world record with 19.
But there’s no argument both have been, and are, superb ambassadors for their sport, as well as sharing two of the sweetest swinging single-handed backhands in history.
There’s also no argument over their longevity.
Federer reckons his current crack form is due to missing the entire clay court season.
“And I’m very very happy about everything,” Federer added.
Can he keep making Slam finals?
It would be a brave punter to back against it.
But to beat Ken Rosewall he must keep playing at the Shanghai level for another three-plus years.
And to put Rosewall’s career in perspective he was in four losing Wimbledon finals with 20 years between the first and last.
There were 19 years between his first Australian Open win and his fourth, 15 years between his two French Opens, and 14 years between his two US Opens.
He’s still the youngest Australian Championship winner at 18 years and two months, and the youngest between 1953 and 1955 to reach all four Slam finals.
Roger Federer proved he’s capable of anything by winning his 19th Slam at Wimbledon in straight sets over Marin Cilic at 35 years and 341 days.
But to match the Australian, Federer will be 43 at the French, 42 at both the Australian and Wimbledon, and just 37 at the US Open.
As I said, it would be a brave punter to bet against it.
David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn't get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world's great sporting spectacles
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