It grabs everyone’s attention when a young individual bursts into the tennis scene with full of ambition and driven by the hunger to achieve great things. Such individuals become overnight stars, youth icons and huge sensations.
It happened when a young Roger Federer took down Pete Sampras or when a young left-handed Rafael Nadal started ruling the clay circuit. Everyone got mesmerised by the talent such young players displayed.
In recent times, it was the turn of players like Milos Raonic, Bernard Tomic and Grigor Dimitrov to hog the limelight. They have been playing well and have been impressive. But sadly, so far, none of them have been able to live up to the expectations. While it may be too harsh to expect a Federer or a Nadal from these young players, much more was expected from them especially after the promise they showed. At the moment, Raonic seems to be the only one doing some sort of justice to his talent. While all of them have the potential, it is a matter of how long they take to tap into that potential.
However, the story is a little different in women’s tennis. Unlike the young promising boys, their lady counterparts have been able to impress and live up to the expectations well. At 19 years of age, Laura Robson of Great Britain has already beaten big names like Kim Clijsters and Li Na. Another teenager who has managed to impress is Madison Keys of the United States. Top players have taken notice of the quality of her tennis, especially her world class serves.
Having said that, we are however, yet to see someone pulling off what legendary players like Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Martina Hingis did as teenagers. It is very difficult to repeat those feats, but people would love to see someone doing it. After all, everyone wants to witness a legend in the making.
Generally, the prime age for excelling in tennis is the 20′s. In this department, there are several players, both men and women, who have shown world class tennis. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have been dominating men’s tennis in recent years. Each of them, with their own unique style of tennis, have captured everyone’s imagination. With displays of breath-taking game-play, excellent footwork, varieties of shots and unshakeable determination, they have won everyone’s hearts.
The same can be said about the women pros. Be it Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka or Agnieszka Radwanska,. They are no doubt, players of the highest order.
Tennis is a very demanding game, both physically and mentally. The general belief is that the period between early to late twenties is the right time for the players to hit their peak. While this has proven to be true in many cases, more often than not, we come across players who are way past their supposedly prime years but are still going strong. This trend has become even more evident over the past few years.
In the early days, 30 was supposed to be the age of retirement for the players. A player approaching thirty years was considered to be in the twilight phase of his or her career. But not any more. A look at the pool of men who are above 30 will throw up names who are not only active in the tennis circuit but are also doing quite well, even better than their younger counterparts in some cases.
Big names like Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Mikhail Youzhny, Tommy Haas, Radek Stepanek, Lleyton Hewitt, among others are proof that these guys are out there not just to play, but also to win. It is true that they can no longer play like Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal. But it is also true that they are no push-overs. They are still going good and they can and will give any top player a run for their money. In short, they may be above thirty, but they are far from over and age is no longer a criteria to hang up their boots.
The same phenomenon can be seen in women’s tennis as well. In fact, the phenomenon is larger in this section. Serena Williams, for example is 31. Traditionally, she should be well past her hey days. But surprisingly, she is currently the top-ranked player and going by the way she has been demolishing her opponents, she is far, very far away from the end. She still is the undisputed queen, the one to beat.
Li Na, another player above 30, is also among the top guns in women’s tennis. Ironically, these two above 30 players will be fighting it out for a berth in the final of the ongoing US Open.