New York - Andy Murray has a hip injury, Novak Djokovic is
sidelined with an elbow problem while Stan Wawrinka needs knee surgery, but
Roger Federer insists it could still be years before the old guard say goodbye
While 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev, 19,
have kicked the US Open door slightly ajar this week, 36-year-old Federer
doesn't see the pair supplanting him or his fellow Grand Slam kings anytime
"Changing of the guard is going to come at some stage.
Could very well be next year. But I still predict it's going to take a few
more," said Federer on Thursday.
Many see this US Open as the most unpredictable in years.
But highly regarded 20-year-old fourth seed Alexander Zverev
and number seven Grigor Dimitrov both failed to get beyond the second round and
that kind of inconsistency has Federer believing that the sport's 30-somethings
will still be a force in 2018.
"I'm not sure if 2018 is going to be wide open just
because we don't know how a lot of those top guys are going to come back,"
he said after making the US Open last 32 on Thursday with his 80th career win
at the tournament.
"What I think is going to be interesting is that their
ranking is going to be all over the place. We're going to see some interesting
draws, to say the least."
Federer pointed to the examples of himself and old rival
Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open this year.
Injuries and loss of form saw him seeded at 17 and Nadal on
However, they still made the final with Federer winning the
title before adding an eighth Wimbledon trophy in July.
Nadal, for his part, claimed a 10th French Open and has
since regained the world number one ranking.
"We had a little bit with me and Rafa down in
Australia. But now we're talking probably about a bigger group," added
Federer of his and Nadal's situation in Melbourne.
"That's going to go down maybe all the way to Murray,
as well, depending if he's going to be playing at all for the rest of the
season. Got a lot of points to defend.
"If that's the case, he might drop further down outside
of the top four, then things are going to look real weird. I think it's going
to be very interesting."
Federer needed a second successive five-setter to reach the
US Open third round with a 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over fellow
veteran Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.
It was his 17th win in 17 matches against Youzhny in a
rivalry stretching back to 2000.
Five-time US Open champion and third seed Federer had also
needed five sets to see off US teenager Frances Tiafoe in the first round.
The 36-year-old will face another 35-year-old in Feliciano
Lopez for a place in the last 16. His record against the Spaniard is just as
solid - 12-0.
"It was quite a lot of fun out there - I feel quite
warmed up by now," said Federer.