He holds the records for most Grand Slam titles (17), most consecutive grand slam semi-final appearances (23), he is one of few players to achieve “the career Grand Slam” (win all four majors), and finally, he is the king of Wimbledon. He has won on every surface and on almost every occasion. But the fact of the matter is that his glory days are far behind him, and Roger Federer just isn’t the same Roger Federer anymore.
Even as Federer’s world ranking continues to drop, nobody seems to want to approach the subject of his retirement. For one, he has continued to say he wants to play for several more years. And of course, any tennis fan that appreciates his level of greatness will be heartbroken when he calls it quits.
Federer was in his prime during the mid 2000’s when he won 15 grand slam titles (six at Wimbledon). He has won only two Grand Slam titles in the past four years. There is little doubt that Federer is still amongst the words elite tennis players, but his play has continued to decline in recent months. The most devastating loss being his 2nd round exit at the hands of Sergiy Stakhovsky, ranked 116th in the world at the Wimbledon grass courts, normally Federer’s best playing surface. There were retirement rumors swirling during 2008 when Roger Federer had a poor summer tour, but he recovered to win the U.S. Open for the 5th time. However, as he continues to lose a step, the legitimacy of the retirement rumors grow.
One cannot help but wonder that if Roger Federer, once the clear #1 in the world, exits Wimbledon in the 2nd round, means it’s time to retire? Federer, age 31, is on the decline and it is incredibly unlikely that he can revive his previous dominance. Federer’s game is a mix of perfect timing and consistency rather than power, but as of recently he seems to have lost a step.
He is in a state where he can still play at a high level, but he can no longer beat Djokovic, Murray, or Nadal on a consistent basis. Federer has lost six of his last eight matches to Nadal, four of his last six to Djokovic, and three of his last four to Murray. Lets just say, the past few months have not been kind to the former world #1.
All eyes will be on Roger Federer at the U.S. Open next week, as we are all anxious to see whether he can compete for another major title. His level of play in New York will tell a lot about his future in the sport. Yesterday, Federer was seeded seventh in a deep field for the U.S. Open. If he makes it to the quarterfinals, he will be faced against his arch nemesis, Rafael Nadal. If the best tennis player of all time cannot make a deep run next week, then it will become apparent that he needs to hang it up.
Only Federer knows how much fuel he has left in the tank and how much he truly believes he can still win Grand Slams. If recent results are any indication, it is clear that he is running out of gas. Federer needs to make a deep run into the second week of the tournament, and possibly win his 6th U.S. Open in order to silence the doubters and prepare for four more grand slam tournaments in 2014.
He wants this U.S. Open more than anyone else. Roger Federer’s legacy as the greatest ever depends on it.