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Rafa Nadal Flying the Flag for Tennis' Golden Oldies
Saturday, 11/18/2017
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Few could have predicted the recent resurgence of Rafa Nadal with the Spaniard set to finish 2017 as the World Number One. The 31-year-old has had a tremendous year and is aiming to top it off with success at the ATP Finals but he isn't the only player who has shown that age is just a number.
 
Nadal is joined in the finals by the ever graceful Roger Federer who turned 36 at the beginning of August and is still playing some wonderful tennis. Alexander Zverev, who is 16 years Federer's junior, has said that the Swiss player is in the form of his life going into the finals and described his current run as "amazing".
 
Many players have continued playing into their 30s in recent years but very few of them can still dominate the game in the way Nadal and Federer have been able to. Pete Sampras won his 14th Grand Slam at the age of 31 and announced his retirement shortly after, but the two ATP finalists aren't showing any signs of stepping back just yet. In fact, they're stepping up the pace on the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, and are the +300 joint-favorites in the online betting markets to take January's Australian Open title.
 
Andre Agassi was another player who continued playing at the highest level well into his 30s and was still ranked second in the world as he approached his 32nd birthday. His career lasted 20 years and he became World Number One for the final time in 2003 following his success at Queens Club.
 
Jimmy Connors was another player who rarely showed signs of slowing down and amazingly reached the Semi-Finals of the US Open at the ripe old age of 39. A year later, he was back at Flushing Meadows but made a second-round exit at the hands of Ivan Lendl. There's also an honorable mention for Rod Laver who turned 30 shortly before the open era of tennis began and managed to win all four majors the following year. He never replicated this success but competed at the highest level for the next few seasons.
 
On the WTA Tour, Venus Williams is another player enjoying something of an Indian summer late in her career. The 37-year-old reached the WTA Finals where she was beaten by a resurgent Caroline Wozniacki, but ended the season ranked number five in the world. She reached the Australian Open and Wimbledon final this year and continues to be a force to be reckoned with on the tour. She is the oldest player competing in the top 20 by quite some distance with 32-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova the second highest ranked at number 11. Sister Serena has given birth to her first child and has missed the majority of the 2017 campaign but has remained dominant over the past couple of seasons including clinching successful Wimbledon titles at the ages of 34 and 35.
 
Rafa Nadal may be turning back the clock this season but he isn't the only player to have achieved much of their success post-30. Tennis is full of golden oldies who have clocked up notable successes despite their maturity and many more are likely to follow in the footsteps of Nadal, Federer, Connors and the Williams sisters.


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