LONDON — Less than an hour after smashing through the Wimbledon semifinal, defeating 11th seed Tomas Berdych in straight sets Friday and earning a spot in his 11th Wimbledon final, Roger Federer was asked in his postmatch news conference how many more years he plans “to carry on” in the sport. In his typically gracious manner, Federer smiled at the reporter, thought about the question and then answered it earnestly.
“Health has definitely a role to play in my decision-making, no doubt about it,” Federer said. “As I move forward, I’ll be very cautious of how much I will play, how much I think is healthy.
“Then, of course, it’s discussions with my wife about the family, about my kids. Is everybody happy on tour? For the time being, it seems like absolutely no problem, which is wonderful. Then success to some extent also is key for staying out there. This tournament, again, helps me to stay hopefully on tour longer, to be honest.”
Throughout the week, as the seven-time Wimbledon champ played his way deeper and deeper into the draw, never dropping a set, virtually every player who has sat opposite the media has been asked a variation of that same question.
Has Federer slowed down? Why hasn’t he slowed down? Shouldn’t he, at 35, be slowing down? When will he slow down?
But the question really should be — after watching the 18-time Grand Slam champion return from a six-month break to capture his fifth Australian Open title and win four of the six tournaments he has played in so far this year — why are we asking these questions?
“I don’t see anything that would indicate Roger is getting older,” Berdych said in his postmatch news conference, after being beaten 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 by the oldest man to play in a Wimbledon semifinal in 43 years. “I think he’s just proving his greatness in our sport. … If you look at the other guys who are 35, 36, I think you can very clearly see that age and the years on tour are affecting them.
“But not with him. He played one Slam [this year]. He won it. He’s playing a second; he’s in the final. I don’t really see anything what you guys are trying to find. So far it’s not there.”
It was easier to watch Friday’s match, marvel at the power and precision of Federer’s ageless forehand, gasp as he stole yet another point by jamming an unreachable return down the line or be awed as he crawled out from behind double-break point in the third set with three aces and a service winner and wonder, “Will this man ever stop?”
When Berdych was asked the question in a more colorful manner — “If the tennis gods came up to you and said, please tell us one weakness of Roger Federer, what would you say?” — the 31-year-old Czech player answered by explaining there was a logic error in the reporter’s question. Federer is the tennis god.