LONDON • Roger Federer, hung over after partying until 5am to celebrate his eighth Wimbledon title, had enough lucidity yesterday morning to throw down a challenge to the next generation to play more attacking tennis if they want to dislodge the old order.
The 35-year-old Swiss could easily return to No. 1 in the world and win his third Grand Slam of the season in New York next month after coming through Wimbledon without losing a set.
He won in Melbourne, too, in vastly different circumstances, and he looks and sounds as content as when he was dominating the game alongside Rafael Nadal and then in recent years competing with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for supremacy.
"Yeah, my head's ringing," he said with a smile.
"I don't know what I did last night (after the champions' dinner at the Guildhall in central London). I drank too many types of drinks, I guess. After the ball we went to - I guess it's a bar - and there were almost 30 to 40 friends that were there. We had a great time. Got to bed at five, then woke up, and just didn't feel good. The last hour or so I'm somewhat okay again. I'm happy with that."
He is happy, too, with his game, which has returned to its stunning best since he came back on the Tour in January.
Federer can fairly be regarded as the best player in the world right now and maybe for a while to come, regardless of sitting behind Murray and Nadal in the rankings - and three places ahead of Marin Cilic, whom he beat 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 in the final on Sunday to claim his 19th Grand Slam title.
Where is that volley? Federer challenges new generation
Since mine and Rafa's (Rafael Nadal) generation, the next one hasn't been strong enough to push all of us out really. So, that is helpful for us to be able to keep hanging around.
ROGER FEDERER, 35, the newly crowned Wimbledon champion, who told young contenders to attack more if they wanted to beat veterans like him and Nadal.
But Federer is less content with the mindset of the younger contenders, who still have not been able to remove the 30-plus elite from the top of the pile.
"I know you can easily get sucked into that mode when you don't want to attack but, if you can't volley, you are not going to go to the net," he said. "Almost every player I played here wouldn't serve and volley. It's frightening to me, to see that at this level."
Federer said he felt the current complicated points system did not adequately reward some of the younger players for their occasional successes against the big guns, and that it was consequently difficult for them to put together the consistent run of upsets necessary to climb the ladder.
"Since mine and Rafa's generation the next one hasn't been strong enough to push all of us out really," he said. "So that's helpful for us to be able to keep hanging around."
Asked if he is now targeting a 20th Grand Slam title, Federer said he had learnt from his six months out not to look too far ahead.
"The target now is to enjoy being Wimbledon champion," he said. "I haven't set a sight on a number of Grand Slams. I was very content at 17... so was 18, and now 19 is great. I think now it's about enjoying myself, staying healthy and playing for titles."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE