Changing of the guard at Wimbledon!

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It was a bittersweet championship Sunday at Wimbledon that saw Rafeal Nadal dominate Tomas Berdych, to cement his hold over the number one world ranking and make it crystal clear that he has taken over as the dominant force in men’s tennis, no matter the surface. The sadness I felt was that for the second grand slam in a row and the first time since 2002 Roger Federer was missing from championship Sunday.

This tournament represents to changing of the guard in men’s tennis. Federer, for the second grand slam in a row failed to break through the quarter finals. Before the French he had reached a record 23 consecutive grand slam semis. After 7 years of sheer dominance Federer, while still a great player and a contender for every big tournament, is clearly on the downside of his career and may even consider his desire to continue competing.

I have to question the desire to continue to fight. For someone who had the run that Federer had winning 16 grand slams, achieving the career slam, and pretty much holding every record worth holding. What else is there for him to do, and why should he put himself through the necessary to regain his number one form, if that is even possible.

It is not often that a player retires at, or close to the top of his game, and rides of into the sunset remembered as a great champion and nothing else. Federer has an opportunity to finish out this year and play one more as a farewell tour, then retire with his wife, kids, and his millions in winnings, and go down as the greatest player in the history of tennis. Or he can continue chasing grand slams and possible taint his almost flawless record with good but not great results. It hurts me every time I see Federer lose an early round match to someone he has beaten every time they played before.

On the opposite side of sorrow for Federer, this Wimbledon saw consistent strong play from the younger generation of top tennis players. Nadal (24) and Berdych (24) play in the finals. The semi finals saw Andy Murry (23) and Novak Djokovic (23). All four players are under the age of 25 and with the exception of Berdych, 13 overall but will move up with his victory, ranked in the top 5 in the world.

What this tells me is that the future of tennis is looking up with additional young players Robin Soderling (25), Juan Martin del Potro (21), Jo-Wilfreid Tsonga (25), and Marin Cilic (21), all ranked inside the top 15 in the world. With Federer on the downside of his career there are young dynamic players to take his place in the spotlight at the top of the rankings. And they will all be fighting for a shot at Nadal in New York City and other cities around the U.S. as the US Open Series heats up throughout the summer. In my opinion one of the most fun stretches of tennis in the year.

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