When should the greats pull the pin?

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Anja_Nees

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 14, 2001
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We’re obviously stuck in a period where three dudes have basically dominated most of the past 15 years and are near the pointy end again this AO.

When they start to decline (ie out of serious grand slam contention) should they play on a la Lleyton or quit to preserve the legend?

Remember Sampras being asked about this and he made an interesting point: if it’s what you’re good at, you enjoy it and still get paid why stop?
 

Roobs321

Norm Smith Medallist
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You've answered your own OP basically. If you want to keep playing, and you are good enough to stay competitive on tour, then by all means continue. The greats aren't their own class or anything, they are completely in their rights to be a mediocre journeyman for their last couple years on tour. The legacies council might say otherwise, but who cares. Let's end it there.
 

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Abba Lonie

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A rung or two below, Verdasco is the current Hewitt. He hasn’t been ranked inside the top 20 since 2012 but hasn’t been outside the top 60 in that time either. He’s now 36 but still good enough to make a living out of the sport, can’t really begrudge someone at his level going for as long as they can.
 

Roobs321

Norm Smith Medallist
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A rung or two below, Verdasco is the current Hewitt. He hasn’t been ranked inside the top 20 since 2012 but hasn’t been outside the top 60 in that time either. He’s now 36 but still good enough to make a living out of the sport, can’t really begrudge someone at his level going for as long as they can.
Verdasco's longevity has surprised me. He was already a name player by 2004, and poised for stardom by the end of 2008. Already seemed relatively past it by the time of his Wimbledon 2013 run. Ever since he has stuck around in that low seed region (Kohlschreiber & Seppi aren't dissimilar in this regard), and has enough deep runs in small and bigger tournaments with the occasional big upset to keep respectable. I respect him more now as a player due to his longevity, whereas if he'd retired in 2015 or something he'd just be one of those guys that was in top 10 contention for 2 years or so.

A little appreciated stat is that he has recorded 24+ wins in all of the last 16 seasons. For comparison, Lopez failed this in 2006, 2009, 2018-19. Shows reasonably consistent activity.
 

Abba Lonie

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Verdasco's longevity has surprised me. He was already a name player by 2004, and poised for stardom by the end of 2008. Already seemed relatively past it by the time of his Wimbledon 2013 run. Ever since he has stuck around in that low seed region (Kohlschreiber & Seppi aren't dissimilar in this regard), and has enough deep runs in small and bigger tournaments with the occasional big upset to keep respectable. I respect him more now as a player due to his longevity, whereas if he'd retired in 2015 or something he'd just be one of those guys that was in top 10 contention for 2 years or so.

A little appreciated stat is that he has recorded 24+ wins in all of the last 16 seasons. For comparison, Lopez failed this in 2006, 2009, 2018-19. Shows reasonably consistent activity.
This was his 67th consecutive slam as well, that’s some quality longevity
 

Anja_Nees

Norm Smith Medallist
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A rung or two below, Verdasco is the current Hewitt. He hasn’t been ranked inside the top 20 since 2012 but hasn’t been outside the top 60 in that time either. He’s now 36 but still good enough to make a living out of the sport, can’t really begrudge someone at his level going for as long as they can.
Absolutely not. The question I suppose is whether Federer or Nadal should keep playing on if they decline. For guys who have never hit great heights I get it.

It’s not unlike AFL in that you can understand fringe players hanging on till they are delisted, but it’s a shame to see all time greats running around in the reserves.
 

JackNah_8

Hall of Famer
Jan 15, 2012
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in the past, players used to retire in their early 30s.


Now they are playing until 40 lol Sports Science, technology and fitness has made a difference and allowing the older players to keep going. I suppose it all depends on their body, injuries and motivation.
 

Bomberboyokay

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Money's too good to quit if you can keep going.

Few retire from professional sport unless the injuries have piled up or they're going to get axed.
 

mcgarnacle

Norm Smith Medallist
Dec 2, 2003
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I suppose the answer to the question is when they mentally and physically tire of it. Federer and Williams sisters are folks who obviously love everything (in addition to the cashola) that comes with being a professional tennis player - the training, the travelling, the preparation, the challenges. A lot of other professional sports folks struggle with this after several years.
 

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