The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Federer getting better with age

- ANNA CALDWELL

ROGER Federer is looking like the man time forgot as he charges into the US Open this week in a bid to clinch a historic 18th major tournament victory.

As the Swiss star spent yesterday in a chopper breezing over the heights of Manhattan, his on-court renaissanc­e was the buzz of the men’s tour.

After beating world No.1 Novak Djokovic and No.2 Andy Murray at the Cincinnati Masters last week, Federer has his sights set on his first Grand Slam since 2012 and his first US Open since 2008.

Federer heads into the tournament as the second seed, putting him in the opposite side of the draw to Djokovic, who will need to handle Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic.

Federer’s side of the draw features fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka and Murray.

Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras were the only two male US Open champions aged in their 30s during the past three decades.

Before that were Aussies Rod Laver (1969) and Ken Rosewall (1970).

Federer, at 34, is three years older than Connors, Sampras and Laver when they were winners and only one year younger than Rosewall.

But, with a new, more aggressive play, the father of four is showing no signs of his age.

In 2013 and last year, as Federer dropped to eighth on the ATP rankings, it was thought he had run his race and Murray and Djokovic were charging onwards while he had stalled.

This year, Federer has carved them both up.

As those of his own generation, including Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt, have wound down, Federer has kept going, all the while dodging major injuries.

“I was always going to squeeze the lemon, so to say, to the last drop,” Federer told The Washington Post.

“And then when I’m retired, I’m actually going to be exhausted and happy that I did it the way I did it.’’

He will face Leonardo Mayer in the first round. The Argentinia­n had five match points against Federer in Shanghai last year but still lost. Federer was in top form in Cincinatti, not dropping his serve for the entire tournament. The US Open, though, is a different beast.

For Federer, it will carry the pressure of trying to get that elusive victory that has taunted him since 2008.

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