London - Buoyed by his record-setting eighth Wimbledon
title, Roger Federer warned rivals on Monday that he could play until he's 40,
spearheading a late-life era of supremacy alongside Rafael Nadal.
Federer eased past injury-hit Marin Cilic to become the
oldest Wimbledon men's champion of the modern era on Sunday, breaking the tie
for seven All England Club titles he had shared with Pete Sampras since his
last triumph in 2012.
It also gave him a 19th Grand Slam title in his 29th final
at the majors.
With his 36th birthday just three weeks away Federer
believes that he could still be playing the tournament when he's 40.
"You would think so, if health permitting and
everything is okay," said Federer, who won his first Wimbledon title in
His confidence in his longevity is based on the radical
transformation he's made to his playing schedule since his semi-final defeat to
Milos Raonic at Wimbledon in 2016.
He immediately shut down his season, missing the Olympics
and US Open, to rest a knee injury.
As a consequence, his world ranking slumped to 17 in
January, his lowest since 2000.
But the gamble paid off as a rejuvenated Federer won a fifth
Australian Open on his return before adding back-to-back Masters at Indian
Wells and Miami.
He skipped the clay court season in the knowledge that a
fully-fit Nadal was always likely to dominate the French Open.
Back on grass, Federer won a ninth Halle title before easing
to his stunning Wimbledon landmark.
Wimbledon, where he became the first man to win the trophy
without dropping a set since Bjorn Borg in 1976, was only his seventh
tournament of 2017.
By contrast, the unfortunate Cilic was playing his 15th, so
it was hardly surprising that wear and tear contributed to his downfall, albeit
in the shape of a humble but debilitating blister.
Federer's match-win record for 2017 now stands at 31-2.
His appearances on the tour will remain limited.
He hinted he may sit out the Montreal Masters and play only
in Cincinnati before an assault on a sixth US Open where he hasn't won since
As always, it's a decision he'll make with those closest to
him just as he did when he took his six-month break in 2016.
"I did ask them the question sincerely, to everybody on
my team, if they thought I could win majors again," Federer explained.
"Basically the answer was always the same from them:
that they thought if you're 100% healthy and you're well-prepared, you're eager
to play, then anything's possible.
"That's how it played out, so they were all right. I
believed them. I had the same feeling. I think that's why the break last year
was necessary to reassess and get back to 100% physically."
Federer is also within touching distance of returning to the
world number one ranking by the end of the year.
Eleven of the last 14 Wimbledon champions have finished the
season on top of the pile.
That list includes Nadal who, despite losing to Gilles
Muller in a five-set last-16 epic at Wimbledon, remains one of the year's
in-form players with 46 wins and just seven losses.
The 31-year-old Nadal made history in June with a 10th
As well as winning the first three majors of 2017, Nadal and
Federer have also captured four of the five Masters played so far.
Where Federer triumphed in California and Miami, Nadal swept
to victories in Monte Carlo and Madrid.
Highly-rated, but still unproven, Alexander Zverev prevented
a Masters sweep by the two old-stagers by winning in Rome.
If Federer and Nadal remain fit, they will start as
favourites for the US Open which gets underway in six weeks' time especially
with question marks over the fitness of Andy Murray (hip) and Novak Djokovic