Roger Federer and “Wine” both flawlessly get better with age. The phenomenal resurgence of the maestro has surprised many. And why wouldn’t it? He is 34 and is playing in arguably the “Golden Era” of tennis. Here are some of the key yardsticks:

1. Light upper body
Body structure plays an important role in tennis. Athletes mould their bodies according to their needs, especially their upper bodies. Federer, who focuses on strength and agility, has a light upper body. By light upper body, I mean that he does less chest workouts and more core and shoulder-back training. Such an upper-body frame gives stability, balance and agility and prevents the lower body from having to bear more weight.

When leg muscles have less weight to hold, the body moves easily without much strain. Federer’s lean body frame has enabled him to stay injury free through much of his career, and to move (or glide?) freely. It is also one of the reasons for his strong performances even at such an advanced age.

2. Strong lower body
Continuing with the body structures, another important element of a tennis player is his leg muscles. The quads, hamstring and calves form the source of power for a tennis player, who has to constantly run, jump and bend throughout his matches. Federer’s strong leg muscles and light upper body give him extra ammunition to run around the court in this age of baseline play without exhausting his energy reserves.

Federer is able to maintain aggressive play even in a four-hour plus match. And that wouldn’t be possible if the Swiss didn’t have incredible strength in his lower body to do all the heavy lifting.

3. Old school tennis tactics
Thanks to Federer, the old school of tennis is still alive and kicking. The Swiss, who came from the era of serve-and-volley and fast courts, is full of old-school play: slices, drop shots, taking the ball early and from inside the baseline, chip-and-charge, and of course, serve and volley.

Federer’s throwback style helps him to cut short rallies and play aggressively, which in turn keeps his body from taking on too much stress. Moreover, his all-court play perplexes not just the new guys but also the elite ones who more or less play the defensive, baseline game.

Hiring Edberg was a big key as he has brought to light the significance of old-school tactics against the big boys on tour.

4. Flexibility of mind
Federer is one of the smartest players on tour right now. It is not just about what he does on-court, but also what he does off-court.
Understanding that his 90 inch racquet was failing against the bigger racquet frame of top players, Federer decided to move to a larger frame last season (97 inches – Wilson Pro Staff RF97). He also appointed Stefan Edberg as coach to hone his volleying skills and add few missing pieces in his game.
Given that Federer had been using a 90 inch racquet for the last 10 years and has traditionally not been very comfortable in appointing new coaches, these decisions proved that Federer is ready to move out of his comfort zone and adapt to changing conditions. And for sure, the tough decisions have reaped terrific results.

5. He is, after all, an artist
You have to admit it.

No matter how many reasons I come up with to understand Federer’s upsurge at 34, there has to be something beyond reason for Federer’s rise. While the lean upper body, strong lower body and larger racquet frame are tangible factors in Federer’s strong performances at such an advanced age, they do not completely justify the level at which he is playing.

As McEnroe admitted, “He’s the most gifted player that I’ve ever seen in my life.”

It’s hard to argue otherwise.

About The Author

I am an avid tennis player an also a passionate and ardent writer about Tennis. I'm an expert in Men's and Women's tennis and updated with all activities and events happening in the ATP as well as WTA tour. I can contribute stats as well as expert opinions on Tennis Shyam is a guest contributor to the WWTA.Today site. His options are his own.

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