17 Grand Slam titles to his name and the most number of weeks as the number one player of the world, Roger Federer has achieved greatness parallel to no other player in tennis history.
There was a time when the Basel native would step onto a tennis court with utmost surety. No matter who his opponent was, Federer ruled the tennis dynasty like no other player, breaking record after record and will arguably go down as the greatest player to have ever graced the game.
However, times have changed now. The emergence of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic has shifted the balance of power in the game and Federer’s era of unchallenged dominance is now definitely over.
But the question is, has the Swiss superstar got the potential and the game to upstage his younger opponents who are currently in their prime? Can Federer add to his already astounding tally of 17 majors and push his greatness a little further?
The major issue facing Federer now is that with the passage of time, more and more young players have started to challenge his game. The 31-year-old has always had a tough time on the court against Nadal, who is widely hailed as his clay court nemesis. Djokovic has enjoyed marvellous success against the veteran Swiss recently and now Andy Murray has also broken his grand slam hoodoo against Federer, finally beating him in an epic five set encounter in this year’s Australian Open.
Besides, players such as Tomas Berdych, Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin Del Potro have also started to trouble Federer at the major events.
Taking into consideration Federer’s age and the skill set he possesses, perhaps his best chance of lifting another major lies at the US Open. The ultra-fast courts of Flushing Meadows will allow him to make use of his strong first serve and bludgeoning forehand. Hence, he can knock the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, both of whom play deep in the court and are known less for their serving and more for the return, off their comfort zone.
Murray, though, who has a similar game to Federer, is expected to be a major hindrance for the current world number two at the US Open.
Unlike in New York, the surface of Australian Open is a lot slower and is ideal for baseline players. That explains Djokovic’s dominance in the tournament in recent past, having won it for three straight years. The chances of Federer getting the better of the Serb, or Nadal, at Australian Open remain bleak.
French Open remains to be Nadal’s territory, although Djokovic has risen as a strong challenger and is being tipped by many to end Nadal’s supremacy at Paris this year. Even Federer will gladly accept that under the current circumstances, he garners very little hope of winning his second French Open title. And plus, there is no Robin Soderling to do him a favour this time around.
Counting Federer out from the Wimbledon will be a folly, as this is the tournament which Federer relishes and adulates the most. And it was on his beloved centre-court in the All England Club that he overcame all the odds last year to beat Djokovic and Murray en-route to a record equalling seventh Wimbledon crown. It also allowed him to surpass Pete Sampras’ record mark of 286 weeks as the number one player.
Federer’s dominance in the men’s game is definitely over. However, that does not rule out his chances of lifting another major. For when Djokovic had become the impregnable force back in 2011, even Nadal had his head down admitting that he can’t beat Djokovic at that level of play. It was then that Federer halted the invincible Serb in the semi-final of the French Open, snapping his remarkable 42-match unbeaten streak.
Odds may be against Federer, but overcoming them has been one feature of his sparkling career. He may not be the frontrunner anymore but he is the greatest tennis player of all times.
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