Bartoli: Not even Federer can defy age

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Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli believes that Roger Federer’s recent struggles to down Novak Djokovic are simply a sign of his age, and that he remains the game’s greatest.

Djokovic beat Federer on his way to winning last month’s Australian Open, having downed the Swiss in the final of Wimbledon and the US Open last year. The Serb now edges the head-to-head battle 23-22 and has won seven of the pair’s last 10 meetings.

Federer seems to have few answers to Djokovic in the big matches, and his chances of adding to his record 17 grand slam titles appear to be getting slimmer and slimmer.

However, while Djokovic may have the better of his great rival at present, Bartoli contends that this should not impact the assessment of Federer’s greatness, and is simply the sign of a player trying to down an opponent who is in his prime and six years younger.

“Roger Federer will always be one of the greatest, maybe the greatest,” she explained to IANS. “He is probably the greatest tennis champion of all time. The things he has managed to accomplish and the level to which he has taken the game is amazing. When he is playing, his style is so flawless and beautiful. It is almost like a ballet when he is playing. If I watch Federer’s match on television, I cannot even switch it off.

She added: “But if you are 33 or 34 is it tougher to compete against someone like Novak Djokovic? Yes, definitely. But that’s just due to human nature. You cannot say that Djokovic is a superior. He is younger, so he can play for longer.

“Roger elevated the game to another level and then Rafa (Rafael Nadal) did it on clay. Now Djokovic is the dominant player. Probably in seven years’ time, someone younger will challenge Djokovic. Then you cannot say that Djokovic is over. It is just a matter of age.”

Federer is currently sidelined after undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He is expected to be out of action for a month.