| LONDON, July 9
LONDON, July 9 With his 31st birthday looming
Roger Federer began a record-equalling 286th week at the top of
the world rankings on Monday after claiming a seventh Wimbledon
The accepted theory is that male tennis players begin the
slow decline into retirement once they hit the 30 barrier but,
as he has done throughout his career, Federer is showing scant
regard for conventional wisdom.
Against Britain's Andy Murray on Sunday, Federer finished
like an express train, raising his level to extraordinary
heights in the third and fourth sets to complete a crushing 4-6
7-5 6-3 6-4 victory and seal a 17th grand slam title.
Since losing to Tomas Berdych in the Wimbledon
quarter-finals two years ago, Federer has watched Rafa Nadal and
Novak Djokovic carve up the big prizes between them.
Many doubted whether he would win another major, let alone
return to the top of the rankings to emulate the 286 weeks of
his idol Pete Sampras.
Now they may be asking whether he can reach the 20 mark.
"I'm so happy I'm at the age I am right now," Federer, the
second oldest man to be ranked number one after Andre Agassi
(who was 33) said after breaking British hearts on Sunday.
"Because I had such a great run and I know there's still
Whatever feats Federer goes on to add in the final chapter
of his career, he can rest assured that he has elevated the
men's game to previously unimaginable heights.
He raised the bar, Nadal and Djokovic took up the challenge,
and, despite marriage and the responsibility of twin daughters,
Federer is reacting again, striving to be even better.
"I want to leave the game better off than when I came into
this great game, which was already unbelievable with the great
rivalries we had," Federer said.
It is often said that the fearlessness of youth erodes with
the passing years, a phenomenon seen in professional golfers
who, as time goes by, start looking for the heart of the greens
rather than firing at the pins.
Despite being one of the best 'defenders' in the game when
in a corner, Federer remains the most fearless player of his
generation, always aiming for the lines, always pushing the
boundary between agression and recklessness.
"I tried to take it more to Andy, and I was able to do
that," Federer said on Sunday. "I think I went to maybe fetch
victory more than he did."
Federer and his family will return to Wimbledon in two
weeks, as he aims to fetch the Olympic singles gold that would
complete his collection.
Should he do that, however, he won't stop there.
"People forget sometimes I do have twin girls," he said.
"That has had a massive impact on my life. I think it's helped
my game more than anything because I think I'm playing some of
the best tennis of my life right now."
(Editing by Alison Wildey)