Never count the veterans out in tennis.
Jimmy Connors shocked the tennis world by reaching the semi-finals of the 1991 US Open. He was a week away from his 39th birthday when that tournament commenced.
Well, Roger Federer will turn 40 next month and he, much like Connors in 91, is on a historic run. After beating 23rd seed Lorenzo Sonego in straight sets (7-5, 6-4, 6-2) on July 5, Federer became the oldest player in the Open Era to reach the last eight in Wimbledon.
Widely considered the greatest grass-court player of all time, Federer reached his 18th Wimbledon quarterfinal after his clinical performance at the Center Court. The eight-time Wimbledon champ took only two hours and 11 minutes to outclass his 26-year-old opponent.
The fourth-round match was briefly suspended for the roof to close as rain interrupted play when Lorenzo was facing a breakpoint at 5-5 in the first set. Once the match resumed, Lorenzo double-faulted conceding the break and Federer looked unstoppable since.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 5, 2021
Federer will face the winner of the match between 2nd seed Daniil Medvedev and 14th seed Hubert Hurkacz. Their match was suspended on the fourth set due to rain and will resume on July 6. Federer leads head-to-head against both Medvedev and Hurkacz at 3-0 and 1-0, respectively.
The tennis maestro will hold the solo record for most grand slam singles titles at 21 if he wins this tournament. He previously held this record for the longest time until Rafael Nadal won his 20th at last year’s Roland Garros, joining Federer. With grass being Federer’s best surface, he has a realistic chance of doing so.
The parallels between Connors and Federer don’t just stop at beating age in a young man’s game. Connors holds the record for the highest number of singles titles at 109 in the Open Era. Federer, who has 103, is currently the only player who’s close enough to pass it. Winning another Wimbledon title would take him closer to this goal.