Forgive me father for it has been quite some time since my last confession.
Roger Federer's prowess on the tennis court is unmatched in historical context. It is however a stitch in time where perhaps his competition was not comparable to the likes of the now prime players Nadal and Djokovic. Clearly, there is a drop off in Tennis Greatnss after the Big 3 and even though they existed during Federer's remarkable run of 231 consecutive weeks at number 1, where he amassed 16 grand slams and 60 plus tournament wins; Nadal and Djokovic were still at their nascent beginnings.
Now, it appears, the panacea, including totalitarian reign atop the ATP standing which 'the joker' ,as he is aptly referred,currenlty resides, is Nadal, Federer, and the homogenous court surface manipulation by the ATP. The likely hood of Djokovic winning every tournament but the french each year, conceded to not a French Frog but a conquistador of the clay in Nadal, is unlikely. This due in part to Nadal's lack of competition amongst other ATP players as of late including Federer. At 25 he has time to figure out what he needs to do to beat Djokovic on other surfaces, and with 5 set marathons being the status quo between the two, he is not far from doing it. This of course brings us to the aforementioned court homogenization by the atp to essentially slow down everything, so the points are longer on every surface to the extent where no one can tell the difference between how a ball bounces at Flushing Meadows in the fall and Wimbledon in the summer. It makes for great tv and it keeps baseline play en vogue as well as discouraging, or should I say, outright banning the teaching of serve and volley techniques as a 'style' of play at bolleteri and other youth tennis academies.
This brings me to my point, the slower surfaces perhaps is red-herring as to why older players are playing longer on tour, 28 plus, and also why Roger Federer's weapons are not as powerful as they once were. What I notice the most about Federer in terms of what he has lost is not so much athleticism, because quite frankly it is hard to tell. Clearly his footwork is a little slower as some of his shot making has waned in the last two yeas, however, what i notice most of all is how much his serve has turned from a weapon to merely a starter pistol . Most notably at Wimbledon, he doesnt seem to have the free points off his serve that I am accustomed to seeing. Everything seems to be hit back and against the human pong machine djokovic, something will have to be improved upon, to cut the point duration and give more power to his shots. Perhaps, Federer will serve and volley all day, though with the pace he is generating I dont see that happening. The Serve speed might be like old, but the ball slows down considerably after it hits the ground on this grass, particularly as the tournament goes to the later rounds, the dirt ground surface slows the ball down even further.
I dont see Federer having a shot against Djokovic who has harder ground strokes and counterpunches with his 18/20 string pattern better than anyone on tour. His serve is also enormously underrated, the surfaces he has placed Federer on recently he has essentially dominated him, I wish Federer the best, but I simply dont see him winning.