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NEW YORK -- Andy Roddick, the hard-serving child from Nebraska who won this U.S. Open up nine year ago, transforms 30 ~ above Thursday.

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Asked in an on-court interview after Tuesday"s first-round success what he want for his birthday, Roddick answered, "I just want to be about until the following week. Climate we"ll renegotiate."

For so long -- even in non-tennis circles -- 30 to be a daunting line the demarcation. Well, good news, tennis fans: Three years is no much longer a fatality sentence.

In fact, 30 is the brand-new 25.

• The No. 1 men"s seed, roger Federer, is 31 years old. His six titles lead every players this year; 11 titles have actually gone come 30-and-over players. Last year the number was five. The favorite among women, Serena Williams, to be born less than 2 months later on than the Swiss champion.

• at this year"s French Open, 37 players in the men"s attract were 30 years or older, the many in open era history. A decade ago the number was 11. And also there was quality in the quantity: Eight that the 32 seeds were 30-somethings. Each of this year"s cool Slams collection a record for most 30-and-over players. Top top the women"s side, 15 30-somethings in ~ Roland Garros collection an open era record. Then there were 16 at Wimbledon.

Roger Federer, you can say, is playing with more youthful legs 보다 he has in years.Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/GettyImages• American Michael Russell, 34, moved Gilles Simon, the No. 16 seed, to 5 sets so late Monday night. Bob and Mike Bryan, the Olympic doubles gold medalists, are additionally 34. So is Tommy Haas, that beat Federer in the final at Halle, Germany, and also has won 12 of his previous 16 matches. Haas, at this time ranked No. 21, to be a top-10 player because that the very first time 13 years ago.

"Seeing how well Tommy Haas is playing, how many of my generation are still playing and also playing well, it"s pretty to really see," Federer said. "I think it"s really an excellent times in tennis. But I carry out hope we get even some more much better juniors coming v in the next pair of years."

Federer is make the efforts to end up the season together the oldest No. 1-ranked player in the ATP world Tour because the current system was instituted in 1973.

The graying of expert tennis has accelerated dramatically in current years. The numbers space remarkable:

• The average age of the present top 10 in men"s tennis is 27.0. A te ago, it to be 24.6; twenty years ago it to be 23.2. Ten year ago, four still-active players -- Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Carlos Ferrero and also Roddick -- were currently in the optimal 10.

• Today"s peak 10 women median 25.1 years in age. That"s up from 22.0 in 2002 and a wet-behind-the-ears 21.7 in 1992. A decade ago, Serena and also Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters and also Daniela Hantuchova were every in the peak 10 -- and also today they"re all still playing good tennis.

• The youngest top-10 players today are Caroline Wozniacki and also Petra Kvitova, who room both 22. Two decades ago, there to be four teenagers in the top 10: Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Jennifer Capriati and also Magdalena Maleeva.

"And today," stated U.S. Women"s Olympic coach mary Joe Fernandez, that was ranked No. 6 at the period of 21 at the time, "there are four teens in the optimal 100."

Fernandez, also an analyst, thinks the WTA"s wild eligibility constraints are one reason it"s harder for young football player to break in.

"As lot as i agree with the principles affiliated -- let"s no burn out our young football player -- some girls are all set to play best away," Fernandez said. "When they have limited opportunities at an early stage on, castle press more and it"s hard to boost your ranking."

This isn"t a tendency exclusive to tennis. It"s a reality of life: civilization are life longer. Senior citizens space a an effective lobbying group; nursing home stock is soaring. Infant Boomers worry around taking treatment of their aging parental -- and making sufficient money to sustain a effective retirement.

Just as numerous of us will work five, 10 years longer than our parents, tennis players are simply trying to hedge versus the future.

"All of united state feel prefer we"re seeing an ext physicality in the game," stated Jim Courier, that was ranked No. 1 at the age of 22 some twenty years ago. "It"s far more demanding than it was once I played. Together a result, it"s harder for younger players to come through.

"I"m looking forward to her piece because I hope someone come up through a far better answer than me."

There are an ext incentives to play longer these days. In a word, money.

"This is what I perform best," said gifted doubles player Daniel Nestor, who turns 40 next week. "I"m going to try and execute it as long as i can. This is as an excellent as it"s going come get.

"You watch a the majority of players leaving the game too early, and also then they come ago six months later. I think is a large factor in this."

A better understanding that the prestige of fitness and also nutrition likewise helps players to last longer. Breakthroughs in kinesiology -- suddenly, the blue and black trainers ice cream is common -- inner medicine and surgical procedures have made it less complicated to play into the 30s.

"I think you have to be a totally grown human to resolve kind the the ins and outs that the physics grind," Roddick said. "I think that"s probably why you"re seeing what you see now. I mean, you have to kind of have the ability to kind of take it a beating main in and also week out.

"It"s no as much around shot-making currently as that is about movement and also that sort of thing."

Everyone concedes the game today is much more physically demanding, which would certainly seem to do it harder because that old folks come succeed. Truth is, in an answer to those demands, the height players have actually by a large consensus functioned harder than previous generations to become fitter and also stronger 보다 ever. Federer, because that example, periodically employs as numerous as three top-level hitting partner -- for a solitary session.

Although Courier acknowledges these factors, he believes that the greatest breakthroughs have come in the area of recovery.

"The players go to the icepacks more, oxygen tents, they hire their own physios," the U.S. Davis Cup captain said. "They have teams currently that clock after them.

"With much more dollars amongst players in ~ the top, comes more sophistication."

In numerous sports, 30 is considered the optimal of an athlete"s physics powers. It may not it is in the instance in tennis, but players definitely have to be able to prolong their range. Bjorn Borg famously left tennis in ~ the period of 25 -- after making 6 straight major finals in his last six appearances.

Today, the only guy in the optimal 10 younger 보다 25 is Juan young name del Potro, that is 24.

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James Blake, who transforms 33 in December, said he wishes his surgically repaired ideal knee will allow him come play a couple of more years.

"I"m obtaining the old jokes, the grandpa jokes," that said, "and I"m OK through that. I deserve it, since if ns dish the out, I"ve obtained to have the ability to take it."