Tennis is a game which needs a lot of physical strength. Tennis players on tour are involved in a lot of tournaments, spread across several countries and the matches they play can grind them and exhaust them completely. All these factors play a key role in determining the lifespan of a tennis player’s career.
When a player reaches the age of 30 years, he becomes more wary of his body, focuses more on his movements and at times may even change his gameplay depending on his body’s limitations. Yet, there have been players in the past who defied all odds and justified themselves as legends.
In 1956, Ken Rosewall came to the tennis scene and lasted till 1980. Over the course of these 24 years, he won 23 major titles. A majority of them were won before the Open era began. Nevertheless, Rosewall’s endurance and resiliency were a standout feature of his career. A genius at volleys, Rosewall was the oldest player to capture the Australian and US Open. At 35, he won his second US open title. At 37, he won his fourth Australian Open title. Rosewall is also the second oldest man to win the French Open at the age of 33. Rosewall was naturally a left-handed person was trained by his father as a right handed person. Thus, he could produce a wide range of shots with the sliced backhand is the strongest weapon.
“Rosewall was a backcourt player when he came into the pros, but he learned very quickly how to play the net. Eventually, for that matter, he became a master of it, as much out of physical preservation as for any other reason. I guarantee you that Kenny wouldn’t have lasted into his forties as a world-class player if he hadn’t learned to serve and volley.”– Jack Kramer
Andres Gimeno was a one time slam winner and he made sure he made his mark in a unique fashion while winning it. He became the oldest person to ever lift the Roland Garros title. He was 34 years old during this accolade. The following year he injured his meniscus and decided to quit tennis.
Arthur Ashe was a former World No.1 who won three grand slam titles. In 1975, at his ninth attempt, aged 31, Ashe lifted his first Wimbledon title. He defeated the heavy favorite Jimmy Connors in the process.
“The ideal attitude is to be physically loose and mentally tight.”– Arthur Ashe
Ashe retired at the age of 36 with a staggering record of 818 wins which helped him bag 51 titles.
Andre Agassi won 8 grand slams in his stellar career. He was often regarded as the best returner in the game and was notable for his deep groundstrokes. Agassi’s last slam came at the 2003 Australian Open at the age of 32 years. He was termed as “The Punisher” for his offensive play. Agassi’s eye-hand coordination is often talked amongst tennis pundits and is considered as the player with one of the best reflexes. After suffering from sciatica, a vertebral displacement and a bone spur that interfered a nerve, Agassi was forced to quit tennis in 2006. One of the greatest ambassadors of the game, Andre Agassi was one of the examples of a player that knew the art of endurance.
“What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.”– Andre Agassi
Roger Federer plays his 28th Grand Slam final tomorrow at the age of 35. If he manages to win it, he will become the second oldest player after Ken Rosewall to lift the Norman Brookes trophy.