He's 31 years old, that's all the proof you should need. Name me one modern player who was as good at 31 as he was at 25-27. Agassi was good in his old age, but nowhere nearly as good as he was in his prime. 25-27 are prime years in tennis. After that comes the inevitable decline for ANY player. What Federer is doing at his age is nothing short of amazing. He regained no.1 spot for a while and won Wimbledon last year. At his age, that is a massive achievement. Granted, the difference between this Federer and 2006 Federer may not be huge, but in tennis losing half a step and/or a little bit of stamina is the difference between a grand slam champion and a runner up/semi-finalist.
I'm Nole fan, but in 4 years from now, when Nole starts losing frequently, are you going to make the same "prove it" argument? I am almost 100% certain that at 31 years of age, Nole will not be nearly as successful as Federer is right now.
For a while, I was of the same opinion, but then I re-watched some of Federer's matches from 2006/2007. There is no doubt in my mind that this version of Federer is (relatively speaking) a shadow of prime Federer. You may attribute that to the rise of competition, and partly that is true, but competition or no competition, it is clear that at his age, Federer is just that much slower and not as fit physically as he was back then, and that's all it takes.
Your post seems far too sensible for this website, albeit stating much common sense and rational thought.
In relation to your comments, except for Agassi, all the open era greats fit the description you state above:
Sampras (14 GS) - retired at 31 after 2002 US Open, but in the period from Wimbledon 2000 until that win had hardly won anything.
Borg (11 GS)- effectively retired at the end of 1981 when still 25.
Nadal (11 GS)- hard to see him win a GS post 30 given the stress his body has received.
Connors (8 GS) - although played 3 GS in 1992 age 40, but last GS title won at 31 at US Open 1982.
Lendl (8 GS) - although played 3 GS in 1994 aged 34, but last GS title won at 29 at AO 1990.
Not to mention players like McEnroe (7 GS), Wilander (7 GS), Becker (6 GS) and Edberg (6 GS)all declined pre 30 and none won a GS aged 30 or more.
Despite the overwhelming historic evidence, many still cannot understand why Federer loses much more often and wins fewer GS these days. Much of what you says explains it.
Did I change the definition?
But back to my original point: People always quick to point to Federer's age when he loses despite his incredible, unprecedented endurance, whereas NO ONE blames Ferrer's losses on his age. Why is that?
The great and almighty Roger Federer is more susceptible to age than an inferior David Ferrer? I don't think so.
Your point is unclear. Even in a state of decline, Federer is better than peak Ferrer. He's a vastly better player, full stop. Nobody is disputing this. Neither is anybody disputing that players peak & decline at different ages. My point is, this has nothing to do with how good they are at peak. It makes no sense to say superior player X can't decline younger than inferior player Y because he's superior. Reconsider the analogy with Shakespeare & Shaw. The quality of a player's peak has no bearing on the age over which that peak is sustained.
Generally though, it seems clear from experience that players' peaks are only parts of their careers, & that in the end, time, if not age, catches up with them. Few players have maintained a peak level of play for over 9 years. On that basis, it makes sense to suppose Federer's age-related decline is happening, even if you are blind to the obvious deterioration in his level of play. Acknowledging this is very different from blaming all Federer's losses on his age.
Ignoring the correlation of older players who do well and their place among the list of all-time greats is extremely disingenuous. Fed, Agassi, Sampras, Rosewall, etc. winning slams in their 30s was no mere coincidence.
I'm not saying that players are still at their peaks; I'm saying that it's all relative. Just like a car is faster than a bike, and will STILL be even if it loses a tire. Yes, the car's superior speed has no bearing on whether or not it will explode for no apparent reason (like your Shakespeare example), but let's be real.
Precisely. He was at a stratospheric level- certainly in my opinion the highest level of tennis I've ever seen from anyone full stop.
He has been on tour since 1999. To expect him to be at his best now is silly. He competes as well as he can. MIMIC's delusional lunacy is that it somehow makes wins over Fed now not as legit. It really DOESN'T, it's just not really arguable that he is past his best. I watched Andy bully Roger at the AO- outhitting and dictating him. I adknowledge that would never have happened against a younger, sharper Federer.
As for Ferrer, he had little mileage in his earlier years. He would exit slams earlier and not be a factor for tournaments in the years you're supposed to peak at. It took him till he was 25 to reach the top 10 and the semis of a Slam at the 07 US Open. Not to mention his entire style of play fell into place with the homogenisation of surfaces. His grinding game is well and truly tailor made to transcend across the current surfaces/conditions hence his high ranking and supposed 'peak'.
Facts do seem to link age and GS winning. Age must be a factor as the body recovers slower, the reactions slow, the body is less flexible and the balance is not quite so good.
If somebody has GS vs age table for the open era it would be interesting, but expect to see probably 90%, possibly more, of GS titles won by players age 20-31.