With seventeen Grand Slam titles under his belt, Roger Federer does not have the type of credentials typically associated with a tournament dark horse.
When you consider that he has won just two major titles since the end of 2009, and none since a memorable victory at Wimbledon in 2012, however, his status as arguably the greatest underdog of all time appears a little easier to understand.
Despite this, Federer has enjoyed something of a renaissance in 2014. After an epic final loss at Wimbledon he went on to claim the prestigious Masters title at Cincinnati at the beginning of August and is now seeded second behind last years’ beaten finalist and world number one Novak Djokovic.
The question that remains is can he continue his imperious form and claim a seemingly illusive eighteenth major.
The Case for the Defence: Why Federer may start as the Bookmakers Favorite
According to leading bookmakers 888sport, Roger Federer may well emerge as the favorite before the tournament gets underway.
The site’s blog his highlighted several compelling reasons for this, not least Federer’s own sublime form and his current brand of fearless, aggressive tennis.
It is also important to consider the issues facing his major rivals, as many find themselves either injured, woefully out of form or seemingly incapable of sustaining a strong mental performance.
Let’s start with defending champion Rafa Nadal, who has been forced to pull out of the event with a wrist injury.
This is a cruel blow for the Spaniard, who won in devastating fashion on 2013 and was hoping to challenge for a fifteenth Grand Slam and close the gap on Federer’s all time record.
This has helped to elevate Federer to second in the rankings, and ensured that he cannot possibly meet top seed Djokovic until the final.
The form of the Serbian star and seven time champion is also concerning, however, as he has performed well below his best after claiming the Wimbledon crown in July.
Defeats against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and veteran Tommy Robredo have underlined the world number one’s physical and mental frailty at present, and this could make a critical difference when you contrast this with Federer’s strength at present.
The struggles of Any Murray also offer a huge advantage to the Swiss, as the British number one has not claimed a title since Wimbledon in 2013 and continues to display huge inconsistency at the highest level.
While he has Grand Slam winning pedigree and loves playing in the U.S. Open, he has shown little in the last twelve months to suggest he is ready to challenge.
Will Federer Celebrate an Eighteenth Grand Slam Victory?
While the field may be open, the question that remains is whether Federer’s body and mind can still sustain a challenge throughout a gruelling, two-week Grand Slam tournament.
He has certainly struggled to replicate ATP Tour form in Grand Slam events during the last four years, while Djokovic’s instinctive battling qualities may yet seem him force his way to another title.
With dangerous players such as Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov also in contention, Grand Slam glory may never have seemed so close and so far away for the Swiss legend.