Monday, August 29, 2011
Updated: August 30, 5:53 PM ET
Don't get caught up in Federer's age
By Greg Garber
Editor's note: In the season's final Grand Slam event, the top four-ranked men in the world appear to be far ahead of the field. ESPN.com will be following No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 2 Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Roger Federer and No. 4 Andy Murray -- daily from the U.S. Open. Four items regarding the big four: 4-on-4.
NEW YORK -- Roger Federer sounds like he's getting a little tired of all those 30-something questions.
"Hasn't changed anything," he insisted before the tournament. "I'm still as professional. I'm still as hungry. Everything's still completely normal."
Federer, who has a reasonably favorable draw, has been picked by some (full disclosure
me) to win here. With his first-round defeat of Santiago Giraldo Federer drew even with Andre Agassi for the second-most Grand Slam match wins in men's history. They both now have 224, with only Jimmy Connors (233) left to beat.
He may be 30 years old and possibly have lost a half-step, but Federer has been ridiculously successful here; he has won five of the past seven titles and reached six of the past seven finals.
"It's just a number that's changed," he said. "I'm ready to go."
2. Egg on their face: The Wall Street Journal ran a big story that revealed (in somewhat breathless fashion) Novak Djokovic has been spending a lot of time in a hyperbaric chamber shaped like an egg. The $75,000 device simulates high-altitude conditions and is said to promote recovery by saturating blood cells with oxygen.
Problem is, Djokovic said Monday, he's not using it here.
"All I can say is that I have used it a couple of times last year, and I haven't used it since," he said. "It's very interesting technology, but I don't know the effect of it. It has nothing to do with my success that I had in last 10 months."
3. Rafa revealed: In his new book, Nadal discusses his parents' divorce that, along with aching knees, might have been a factor in his decision to skip Wimbledon two years ago.
"I never talk about my personal things in the press, all the changes in your life need a little bit of time," Nadal said.
"After a little bit of time I was perfect, but at the beginning it's tough. I'm not the only one who has parents divorcing in one moment of my life. Only thing is that in Mallorca the family is very important. So any change in this part, these people close to you, affects you, no? That's happened. That's past."
4. Murray feeling fresh: Murray, who lost in last year's third round here, acknowledged that he came into that U.S. Open a tad tired.
"I felt like even from the start I didn't feel all that fresh," Murray said. "I was playing OK, but I also had a relatively bad sort of tendinitis in my wrist. I was struggling to hit my backhand.
"This year I have made quite a big thing of getting ready for the Slams and making sure I'm at my best physical condition going into them. I have prepared very, very well."
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.