In the link you will find a very nice article about the ‘old’ Roger being back. He says that his back injury is now a thing of the past and that the ‘old guy’ is back. This was always the thing I couldn’t figure out about Roger, because he never spoke about his back problem much until it was gone. It just shows that he is not a guy looking for excuses, unlike some desperate haters wants you to believe. I mean he basically had us all fooled into believing that he was mentally a broken man, but instead all the haters are now mentally broken! I’m really glad he took off those six weeks after the Australian Open to rehabilitate his back. Tiger Woods did a similar thing when he took time away from the golf tour to change his swing.
Many people thought Tiger was losing the plot, but he knew better. He knew in the long run it would benefit his health to change his swing and he couldn’t be bothered by what people were saying. It’s a little uncanny how similar the careers of Roger and Tiger are. Since Roger won Wimbledon and the fact that Tiger failed to win the US Open, Roger is now one up on Tiger in major titles, leading 15-14. This is now the main rivalry in sport, now that Roger has the Rafa monkey off his back. Woods is chasing the record 18 major title mark set by Jack Nicklaus, while Roger has just passed the 14 major mark set by Sampras. In the article it seems like Roger says the 18 or 19 mark in majors definitely seem possible, so this actually becomes very interesting now.
Roger and Tiger will be pushing each other from now on to see who will be the first to the 19 major mark. I think they will both reach that mark, but who reaches it first will be interesting to see. Tiger is now 33 years old, while Roger is 27. That means Tiger has more time left then Roger to win majors, but Roger is winning them at a faster pace then Tiger. An interesting stat is that Roger has won 15 grand slams in just 6 years, while it took Sampras 12 years to win 14 slams. Wow! No wonder Pete is calling Roger the GOAT. I mean Roger is winning slams at a rate of 2.5 per year, which is another staggering stat. Pete could only manage about 1 per year. Tiger won his first major just about 12 years ago, which means he has been winning majors at just about the same rate as Sampras.
So while Tiger and Pete have been winning slams at roughly 1.16/year, Roger has been winning them at exactly 2.5/year! I think in golf it is slightly harder to win majors because you compete against the whole field, not just seven opponents. There is also so little margin for error, one bad shot can cost you the title. And finally if you look at the amount of majors won by Sampras and Nicklaus, there is only a difference of four, while in terms of years you have almost double the amount of time to win majors in golf then you have in tennis. Golfers can still win majors into their early to mid fourties, while tennis players very rarely win major titles in their thirties. Nicklaus won his final major at the age of 46, while Andre Agassi managed to win his final slam at the age of 32.
These facts make the Federer/Woods rivalry even more relevant. It means that golf and tennis evens out in terms of major titles, because while it’s harder to win majors in golf, you have more time to do so. I think Roger and Tiger are very close in terms of greatest sportsmen of all time. It now becomes very interesting, Roger will try to win as many slams as possible in the years he has left, because surely Tiger will compete at slams for longer then Roger can. I’m sure Roger will be the first to break Nicklaus’ 18 major mark, just as I am sure Tiger will also break it at some point. Lets say Tiger can win majors until he is 40, and he keeps winning them at his current rate. That means he will win about 8 more majors, which puts him at a total of 22.
It’s hard to judge though, because Tiger may start winning majors at a slower rate because he is getting older. But on the other hand he may win majors into his mid fourties. So lets leave it at 22 for now. That will be a tough one for Roger to achieve already, but definitely not out of the question. I mean he has won 3 of the last 4 majors and made one final, so he is definitely not slowing down. The way he played against Karlovic and Haas in at Wimbledon makes me believe he is back to his very best, and according to the article he concurs. He has now won the two most important titles of his career and can really set that grand slam tally as high as he likes. The earliest that Roger will retire is at the Olympic Games in 2012.
That gives him 8 more grand slams to compete in. If he wins 2 slams a year from now on that would put him exactly at 19 slams! But I am hoping he will still play after that. He will only be 30 when the Olympics start in 2012 and I’m sure he can win major titles after that. I hope he takes up the challenge with Woods, surely he must have thought about it. I am a very positive person when it comes to Roger, and I like extreme things. Even after everything that Roger has achieved there are still people saying that he is not the greatest blah blah blah. So for that reason I think it would be great of he goes on to win a ridiculous amount of slams. And why stop a good thing? I think as long as he can wins slams he should continue.
He said he is playing for the love of the game and I think he can still enjoy the game for a long time. If Agassi won a slam at 32 then surely Roger can do it as well, or even after that. With his economical style his body can hold up for a long time, and his superior talent will still keep him competitive at slams as well. I will leave you with the words that were on Roger’s jacket, which one of my readers told me about: “THERE IS NO FINAL LINE”.
PS. Spare a thought for tennis player Mathieu Montcourt who died at age 24 on Monday. I remember making eye contact with him in a tournament I played some years ago. Now he is gone.