It turned out to be a far from stellar year for the Swiss maestro Roger Federer.
Federer’s 2013 was met with a sharp decline in form and ended with just a single tournament victory. He finished the year at number seven in the ATP rankings, an 11-year low for the man who has dominated tennis for the best part of a decade.
More worryingly, Federer failed to reach the final of a single Grand Slam tournament, with his best showing coming in the opening major at the Australian Open. Here he lost to Andy Murray in straight sets. This humbling defeat set the tone for Federer in the months to come as he failed to recapture the form that had seen him claim his seventh Wimbledon crown in the year previous.
Commentators and fans alike began to predict the fall of the greatest player in tennis history as he suffered early defeats in the Indian Wells and Madrid masters series. A straight-sets defeat to the Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Roland Garros further added to his woes.
However, the ultimate hammer blow was ultimately dealt to Federer at Wimbledon where the defending champion relinquished his title with a shocking loss to world number 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky.
This defeat brought his remarkable record of 36 quarter-final appearances to a shuddering halt. His imperious sense of invincibility had vanished. Those sweet forehands which had so often landed right on the baseline now seemed to fly long with alarming regularity. Opponents no longer feared him.
Back complaints and experimentation with a new racquet-head then hampered the Swissman’s run up to the US Open where he ended his assault at the Fourth Round to Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo. All hope of a glorious return seemed lost. However, as Federer slipped further down the rankings he began to show glimpses of the fight that had made him the sport’s most terrifying opponent.
After splitting with his coach of three years, Paul Annacone, Federer achieved a run of a final and two semi-final appearances. This included the season-ending Barclays World Tour Finals tournament in London.
In a year where he failed to beat a single member of the ‘big three’, Federer will certainly not reflect on this season with any fondness, but he will surely take heart from his end to the season. Without a doubt, he will believe that he can add to his list of 17 Grand Slam titles.
And who would argue with him?
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