For the large part of the previous decade, there have been some astonishing consistency in sport in terms of which teams and players win the majority of the time. In football, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have been able to dominate in their own domestic competition and the Champions League. In cricket, Australia, England and India have been able to show their class in the different formats of the game. It has just felt as if when these major sporting contests come around, commentators and fans alike are able to easily predict the outcomes with a high likelihood that they will be close to being right.

But in this year of all years, with Leicester winning the Premier League title in a remarkable season, could it be the case that the most consistent 4 athletes of their generation are starting to lose their greatest attribute?

Competition heats up

This was the question on most sporting fans’ lips at around 3pm this afternoon, as Marin Cilic was blowing Roger Federer off the court with his powerful serve and cross court backhand. Just on the previous Saturday, the world was shocked as Novak Djokovic was out of sorts in his defeat to Sam Querrey in the third round. Furthermore, with Rafael Nadal not even participating in the tournament, people were starting to feel that this was the end of an era.

But, write champions off at your peril. Ultimately, Roger’s strength and talent showed its qualities and he was able to pull through in 5 sets to reach his 11th semi-final. But, more importantly, he has fought off two things, time and his fiercest critics, for at least a while longer. As Marin Cilic goes back to the drawing board to figure out what went wrong in that match, both Federer and Andy Murray have proven that when it comes to big matches at Gland Slams, not many people can get past them.

Roger and Rafa

We have heard the argument before, especially with Roger and Rafa, that the gap between the big 4 and other players is closing. Yet, time and time again, they prove that they are going nowhere. The most important aspect of their success is the mental strength they all possess. The remaining players on the tour, at the pivotal moments, simply do not have the belief to win.

Obviously, both Stan Wawrinka and Marin have shown that they can win Grand Slam tournaments, but the consistency is non-evident. That is the most impressive quality that Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray have shown throughout the majority of their careers. Whatever adversity they face in the matches they play, the self belief and confidence that they portray is able to get them through. This shows no sign of stopping at least for a few more years.

Ending of an era?

The media and people alike are always looking for any signs of vulnerability in these great players. Be it the injuries with Rafa or the ageing of Federer, they will cling onto anything to suggest they are losing their way. Instead, people should be thankful that we all live in this era to witness their excellence and brilliance.

Rather than look for any signs of weakness and try to doubt them, relish the fact that they always prove their greatness on the biggest of stages. This way, we will all be able to enjoy the experience because, we may never see the like of this again.

So as Federer marches onto the semi-finals, it looks like he has beaten time once again, not only for himself, but also his three great rivals.