There is no doubting this golden generation of tennis but are we looking at the beginning of the end of this generation?
Roger Federer has had a phenomenal career, with a record 20 Grand Slams, and 98 career titles to his name. He has become incredibly rich, with total prize money earned of more than US $118 million, which is dwarfed by his off-court earnings from the likes of Uniqlo, Rolex, Credit Suisse, and Wilson, which have made him the world’s highest paid athlete.
Yet, he is now 37, and, although he is still playing to an incredibly high standard, there are signs that his powers as an elite tennis professional may be waning as anno domini begins to catch up with him.
Although 2018 began with a high as his clinched his 20th Grand Slam title with victory in Melbourne, tournament wins have become increasingly hard to come by for the Swiss master.
Having opted to miss the clay court season for the second successive year in order to be fresh for the Wimbledon and US Open Grand Slam events, he made an early exit from both, beaten by Kevin Anderson in the quarter final stage at Wimbledon, and then losing to Australian journeyman John Millman in the Round 16 at Flushing Meadows.
And then, last week, at the Shanghai Masters, having struggled past Daniil Medvedev and Roberto Batuista Agut in the earlier rounds, he was beaten in the semi-finals by world number 13, Borna Ćorić in straight sets.
Federer has now dropped to number three in the world, below Novak Djokovic, and although he has qualified for the Nitto ATP end of season finals for the 16th successive year, perhaps it might be time for him so soon contemplate calling it a day.
Already written off once by experts, Federer came back strongly to add to his collection of Grand Slam titles, pushing it up to the current 20 mark. It had also coincided with Novak Djokovic’s sudden drop in form though.
And it is not as if he needs the money.
Not only has he accumulated enough to live in luxury for the rest of his life, but a number of his endorsements, like the tie-in with Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo, will run long after he has retired.
And, for the neutral, it will be a shame to see his legacy tarnished by a string of losses to lower-ranked players who he would have dispatched with ease in his pomp.
Time waits for no man but if there’s one player who has shown he can stall it, it’s been Federer. Can he do it again though?