Better With Age: Seven of the ATP’s year-end Top 10 are over 30

by: John Berkok | November 27, 2018

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WATCH—World No. 2 Rafael Nadal will resume training next week:

 

 

This week’s ATP rankings are the year-end rankings, and they’re historic: the Top 10 includes seven players age 30 or over, the most in the 45-year history of ATP rankings.

No. 1 Novak Djokovic (age 31)
No. 2 Rafael Nadal (age 32)
No. 3 Roger Federer (age 37)

No. 4 Alexander Zverev (age 21)
No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro (age 30)
No. 6 Kevin Anderson (age 32)
No. 7 Marin Cilic (age 30)

No. 8 Dominic Thiem (age 25)
No. 9 Kei Nishikori (age 28)
No. 10 John Isner (age 33)

Before 2018, the most players age 30 or over in an ATP year-end Top 10 was five. It happened twice: first in 1974 (John Newcombe, Rod Laver, Tom Okker, Arthur Ashe and Ken Rosewall), and again in 2015 (Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga).

There’s another trend building: only seven times since the ATP rankings began in 1973 has the year-end Top 10 had three or more players age 30 or over—and those were the first three year-end Top 10s (1973, 1974 and 1975) and the last four year-end Top 10s (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018). For 39 years between 1976 and 2014, there were a maximum of two players age 30 or over in the year-end Top 10.

Third-ranked Federer isn’t just the oldest player in 2018’s year-end Top 10, he’s the oldest in the year-end Top 100.

“I must tell you, I’m very proud that at 37 I’m still so competitive and so happy playing tennis,” said Federer. “It’s been an historic season in some ways. Got back to world No. 1. For me, that was a huge moment in my life and in my career, because I never thought I would get there again.

“Here I am having a pretty good season physically, as well, won another Slam, too—so yes, you can see it as a very, very positive season. That’s probably how I’ll look back on it once I’m on vacation.”

But while the old guard continues its reign over the tour, its leader isn't resting on his laurels.

“I think there is a lot of quality in the new generation,” top-ranked Djokovic said at the ATP Finals, where he was beaten in the final by Zverev. “Zverev is obviously the leader of that next generation. He’s proven himself, established himself as a top player. Then you have players like [Karen] Khachanov, of course, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, [Borna] Coric. I think tennis is in good hands.

“At the same time, I think us older guys, we’re still obviously working hard and working smart and trying to get the most out of what we have left in ourselves. How long that’s going to go for, we don’t know. But obviously experience plays an important role in these kinds of matches, knowing how to approach, play and behave in certain moments, and how to deal and cope with the pressure.

“Obviously that’s on our side.”

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