Rafael Nadal interviewed with an entourage of reporters on Sunday at the 2017 Rogers Cup. Among the questions that Nadal faced was one regarding the scheduling for the ATP players. Amidst all the injuries that have taken place and with numerous players in the top ten missing the Rogers Cup, an unidentified reporter asked for Nadal's thoughts on the ATP's schedule.

Age is a factor

In speaking about the rigors of the scheduling Nadal mentioned the ages of the players that have taken extended breaks in the recent past or that plan to in the near future.

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"Roger is 35...36?" Nadal claimed. "I am 31, Stan is 32 maybe, Novak is 30...we are not 21 or 22 anymore." The confusion over Federer's age might have to do with the fact that the Swiss Maestro's birthday is imminent. He will be 36 on Tuesday, while Nadal was correct about the ages of the other players. In speaking about the last generation of players, Nadal mentioned that "most of them" had already retired by comparable ages.

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In looking back at the last generation, Andre Agassi stood out as a player that lasted well into his 30s. He held the World No. 1 ranking at the age of 33, still a record on the ATP Tour (Roger Federer currently is a threat to this record). Agassi played his final matches at the age of 36, however, he was not too competitive at that point in terms of winning big tournaments.

Sampras was old at 31

With Pete Sampras, the best player from the last generation, he played and won his last match just weeks after his 31st birthday in the final of the 2001 US Open.

Former World No. 1 Thomas Muster played his last match at the age of 31 as well, at least if you discount his frivolous comeback in 2011 in his mid-40s. Another former World No. 1, Marcelo Rios, played his last match at the "old" age of 28. Former World No. 2 Michael Chang played his last match at the age of 31. With the exception of Sampras, all of these former greats were ineffective at the ages mentioned.

Explanations as to why tennis players are lasting longer are speculative in nature. It could simply be due to chance as there is no law of nature that says that talent has to be spread evenly across the generations: there can be peaks and valleys. Alternatively, it could be that advances in sports-related sciences have helped players last longer, with the current generation just the biggest beneficiaries.

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The bottom line is that the 2017 Rogers Cup is top-seeded by two players that would be considered old fogies according to previous standards. Nadal is scheduled to contest his first match of the tournament on Tuesday. He'll either face a 20-year-old (and underachieving) spring chicken in Borna Coric or a fellow old man in Mikhail Youzhny -- another never-say-die player who qualified for the main draw of the Rogers Cup at the age of 35.

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