Playing a sport single-handedly is a big responsibility and never easy. That’s why, people hardly compare tennis to football or hockey or some other team game. As soon as a player approaches the late 30s, the world gets very curious to know about their plans to continue, if they still want to win a GS or even want to play further. Such scenarios have been faced by many tennis players in the past and still do, from Laver to Connors to Agassi to Federer! Winning a GS after 30 has not been an easy job which is quite evident from the records which we can look upon.
As Stan Wawrinka won the US Open last month, he became the 9th man in the Open Era to win a GS after being 30 years old. While Rod Laver completed his second calendar GS being 30 years old, the other players, namely Andrés Gimeno, Bill Bowrey, Arthur Ashe, Ken Rosewall, Jimmy Connors, John Newcombe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer also achieved this feat in their respective careers.
Talking about the records of turning 30+, the legends like Sampras managed to win one GS, i.e. US Open’02 and his further best performance for the same year at the Grand Slams was 4R.
On the other hand, Agassi won 2 Grand Slams after turning 30, viz. Australian Open 2001 and 2002. He was a finalist in three other Grand Slam finals as well, losing his last final to the then rising star, Roger Federer. Erstwhile, he managed some marvellous results at GS, reaching the semis or the quarters. He wasn’t left with a lasting stamina to play or easily go beyond 3 sets in a match, but he managed to pull some great 5-setters as well in the Grand Slams. Post 30 GS matches winning was a good challenge for him.
Then, there was Roger Federer era, who is considered the Greatest of all times after Rod Laver. Federer has played some brilliant tennis even after 30. He has reached the Quarter Finals or beyond for 14/19 Grand Slams he has played after turning 30. His earliest exit reported yet (after 30) is the 2R exit at Wimbledon’13 where he lost to Sergey Stakhovsky. He was, and is still considered a threat to themselves, by all the players, may it be a newcomer or may it be Novak Djokovic. Federer has twice been responsible for breaking Djokovic’s winning streaks in 2014 and 2015 respectively. He missed two Grand Slams in 2016, and is all set to make a comeback in January 2017. He considers age just as a number, he has defied the convention. He is unstoppable!
Another name who has dominated the Grand Slam calendars is Rafael Nadal. He turned 30 in June 2016. And since then, he has withdrawn from 2 Grand Slams and lost in the third in one, i.e. US Open’16 to the nextGen player Lucas Pouille in 4R in 5 sets. He seems to have a big issue with his injuries since the beginning of his career. There isn’t much of him left to see right now it seems.
Talking about the current scenario, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, both are set to turn 30 next year. While Djokovic seems disinterested about the rankings and is not eyeing Federer’s record of 17 Grand Slams.
“I don’t want to think about winning titles and being the number 1 anymore to avoid putting pressure on myself”, said Novak Djokovic, who has evidently reflected his Wimbledon and Olympics disappointments, that the effort had drained him, both mentally and physically.
After winning his third Grand Slam this year, The Wimbledon Championship, Andy Murray said, “Everyone’s time comes at different stages. Some come in their early 20s, some mid -20s. Hopefully mine is still to come.” It was clearly evident that he wants to win more and more in the upcoming years. He has finished a runner-up in all four of the Grand Slams, he has ended a runner-up in at least one Grand Slam every year from 2010 to 2016, except for 2014. He has a career record of 77.86% winning and has 41 titles to his name. He still has the hunger left in him, the hunger to satisfy himself winning Grand Slams in future, post 30 years of age.
Being a player having the highest tennis quotient of all, his strengths include groundstrokes with low error rate, the ability to anticipate and react, and his transition from defence to offence with speed, which enables him to hit winners from defensive positions. For this reason, he is rarely aced by his opponents.
Probably, Murray can become the tenth man to enter the 30+ aged GS winning club with fellow players like Wawrinka and Federer.