Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Sport: Roger Alton

Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Sport: Roger Alton

Article excerpt

Not a bad week for Roger Federer then: first pootling along being cool and rich in a morning suit at the Philippa Middleton wedding, then being named in the world's tennis top five again, with his increasingly elderly chums. It's the first time all five (Murray, Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and 'Stan the Man' Wawrinka) have been over 30. Indeed, the only player born in the 1990s to reach a grand slam final is Milos Raonic; no spring chicken at 27.

This is an astonishing time in tennis; a golden generation indeed. We have come a long way since Lleyton Hewitt beat David Nalbandian 3-0 to win Wimbledon. Nalbandian won just six games. That was in 2002; not so long ago, though it feels like a lifetime.

Now perhaps a little metal fatigue is starting to appear in the old guard's armour. But it only goes to show quite how good they have been. It may be some time before we see such a talented group all performing at the height of their powers at the same time. For all his dominance, Björn Borg didn't have much opposition and nor did Pete Sampras. But the cracks are starting to show: last week at the Italian Open in Rome the king of clay himself, Rafa Nadal, was trounced by Austria's Dominic Thiem, who was then himself slaughtered by Djokovic, who in turn was pulled apart in the final by Germany's elegant giant, Alexander Zverev. Pick the form lines out of that. At last the pieces do seem to be shaken up, but will Zverev or Thiem have the brilliance and consistency of their predecessors? Does the new generation contain a player approaching the stature of Rafa, Roger, or Djoko? I doubt it, though the next two weeks of action at the French Open in Paris should give us more clues.

Fans of West Country myth-making will have been thrilled by the arrival of little Forest Green Rovers into the Football League, by dint of beating Tranmere Rovers -- once home to John Aldridge, Pat Nevin, and Half Man Half Biscuit. …

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