It was 104 degrees in Perth but Roger Federer hardly seemed to sweat. Someday soon, tennis’s annual Grand Slam quest will begin without Federer–and on that day the mood at Rod Laver Arena will surely match the courts: blue. The so-far ageless Swiss amalgam of power, precision and grace is 31-years-old already. May not sound like athletic dotage–especially after he reclaimed the #1 ranking last year and a little tourney called Wimbledon–but Federer is in the proverbial 4th quarter. Things can happen quickly, too. John McEnroe had his best year ever on the tour in 1984, going 82-3, winning both Wimbledon and the US Open. He never won a Grand Slam title again. He was 26.
Andre Agassi won his last slam at 32. Bjorn Borg was 25. Pete Sampras, 31. Of course it might be a long while before we wave our blue goodbye to Federer. Just a few years ago he looked as though he would never overcome the charging ferocity of Rafa Nadal, that the guard was forever changed, but then he unexpectedly came back and beat him. Novak Djokovic had the greatest single tennis season any player has ever had in 2011, but then Federer dug deep and took the world back from him for a little while. And so far Down Under, Federer hasn’t looked any different from his younger, masterly self. Savor every minute, if you have the chance.