London – Roger Federer saluted the Wimbledon old boys club on Monday when five men aged over 30 featured in the fourth round, the highest number since 1975.
Federer, who turns 31 in August, defeated 31-year-old Belgian Xavier Malisse 7-6 (7/1), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 to reach a 33rd successive Grand Slam quarterfinal and praised the longevity of his generation.
“We had a good generation. Think back 10 years ago when we were all coming through. My junior year back in 1998 was unbelievable,” said Federer.
“Whoever I played in almost every match made it on tour after that.
“I think we had a record in Paris with the number of over 30-year-olds in the main draw, which I'm happy to see. But I am also happy that I'm not the only guy left.
“I see familiar faces left and right everywhere I go at every tournament.”
Federer's opponent in the quarter-finals will be fellow 30-year-old Russian Mikhail Youzhny, who he has defeated 13 times in 13 matches since their first meeting in 2000.
America's Mardy Fish and Spain's David Ferrer are the other two 30-year-old players in the last 16.
At the start of Wimbledon last Monday, there were 34 men aged 30 or over in a total main draw of 128 which was an Open era record for the tournament.
The previous best was 33 in 1978.
Spain's Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo, who lost to Fish in the first round, was the oldest at 34 years and six months.
This year's French Open saw a record for all Grand Slams – 37.
Youzhny said he didn't think age was a factor, pointing out that he only turned 30 last Monday.
“My opinion is that 30 is not an age when you have to decide something, to continue to play or stop to play, because we have a lot of examples when players play until 35, 34. So we still have time,” said the Russian. – Sapa-AFP