Two of the biggest names in the game moved into the quarterfinals in straight sets on Sunday afternoon. Between Roger Federer and Serena Williams, they’ve earned 43 combined Grand Slam titles. Their quests to win another Major, Federer, his 21st and Serena, a record-tying 24th, became more palatable based on what transpired on Sunday.
Federer looked almost flawless in his route of the 15th seed David Goffin, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0, in their match that lasted only an hour and 19 minutes. Federer will next play Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Alex de Minaur in straight sets, in the quarterfinal.
With top seed and defending champ Novak Djokovic retiring during his match against Stan Wawrinka Sunday evening with a left shoulder injury, Federer’s road to the finals, became more palatable. Federer and Djokovic were on a collision course to clash in a potential semifinal showdown before Djokovic pulled out of the tournament.
Serena looked sharp in getting through Petra Martic, 6-3, 6-4. Midway through the second set, Serena tripped, rolled her ankle, and took a lot of time getting up. She called a trainer during the change-over and the trainer wrapped her ankle. Afterwards, Serena said her ankle felt ‘okay’ but she was going to have it checked out and would know more on Monday.
Serena will next play Wang Quiang, the 18th seed from China, in the quarterfinals. Quiang ousted the 2nd seed and reigning French Open champ Ashleigh Barty, 6-2, 6-4.
Both the No. 2 seed and the No. 3 seed Karolina Plishkova, who was ousted by 16th seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain, 6-7 (1), 6-3, 7-5, are gone from Serena’s portion of the draw.
Federer and Serena have been the two biggest names in the sport for over two decades. Federer, a five-time U.S. Open champ, is 38-years-old and has advanced to a record 56 Grand Slam quarterfinals, breaking his own record of 55. His last U.S. Open title was back in 2008.
Serena will turn 38 on September 26, has won 6 U.S. Opens, her last one coming in 2014 and her first one, twenty years ago! When Serena was asked about her longevity in the game and what separates her and Federer and other players who have played for so long, she said, “I feel like we obviously have a love for the sport. I feel like a lot of players do, too. I can't really answer for Roger. I can just say that -- I always said I would wake up one day and say, I'm done.That day hasn't come yet for me. I'm still playing pretty good tennis. I do look at Roger, like today, and the guy is incredible. His game is shockingly amazing. So there is no reason that he shouldn't be out there with his ability, and I feel the same way about mine.”Serena says it’s the wins that keep her going. Federer credits his longevity to his devoted passion for the sport.
“Look, Serena and me,” said Federer, “She started even earlier than I did on the tour. She's also had many more injuries than me and more time off away from the game than I did. We went about it different ways, totally different backgrounds and all that.
Still I guess you need to be successful, you need to love what you're doing, find a way to really keep yourself entertained because you go through moments where maybe being away from your home city, village, country, house, whatever it may be, friends, it's not that fulfilling. You sometimes got to look for ways to keep going."
"I think what's helped me so much is stability with my relationship with my wife, my relationship with my sister and my parents, then just the friends we were able to keep throughout my career on the road. It didn't make me feel like if ever I came home I had nobody. I always felt like our friends couldn't wait to come either meet us at the tournaments or wait for us at home. That just made time away or at home so much fun. That has helped me a lot."
"I mean, success has played a big part in Serena's and my career, for sure. Maybe traveling and only winning 50% of the matches on tour, then maybe also we wouldn't be playing any more."
"But because we know we can still beat the best, win the biggest tournaments, it's so worthwhile to stay there and see if you can go back to these emotions, see if you can do it at a later stage in your career, and be a totally different person almost, a different player sort of 20 years later. It's quite exciting actually.”
It’s truly amazing that these two greats in the game continue to push themselves, train, practice and make time for their family life, all the while staying at the top, thrwarting off eager opponents and deal gracefully with the constant pressure of winning. What an era to be tennis fans to have followed these two greats through the years! When they both do decide to call it quits, there will be a definite void in the game. They’re both irreplaceable on many levels.