Roger Federer watched his entire tennis career flash before his eyes at the Australian Open.
He didn’t drop a single set in blowing through his first four matches and a walk through. He looked like the Roger of old, the Roger that was placed in the company of all-time greats, as he routinely won three majors a year.
Then came his semifinals match against Rafael Nadal, and the stage was set for Federer to prove age is nothing but a number. He was healthier and had the mental edge as he made Nadal look like a fool before the tournament by not taking the bait on comments suggesting he was sticking up for the ATP.
Federer came out on fire, looking like he was the younger player with an extra spring in his step. He won the first set and held all the momentum. Yet the Spaniard wore him down to a bloody pulp with his cross-court shots that had the Swiss running sprints. It was a slow and painful death for Federer.
It was the eighth win in 14 career matches for Nadal and further evidence that Federer is unable to keep up with Nadal. As Federer watched Novak Djokovic in the final two days later, the message became clear: Federer can’t get any higher than the semis in Grand Slam events going forward.
His foot speed is down, he doesn’t get the power on his second serve like he used to and the aura surrounding the greatest player of the last decade has vanished. His day in the sun has set.
Yes, 2012 was supposed to be the year where Federer went against the norm and won a Grand Slam at the age of 30. He was supposed to be the healthiest, the most mentally prepared. That’s what we’ve come to expect from the Swiss.
Instead, a demoralizing loss despite a terrific effort officially signifies the end of an era. Barring severe injuries from Djokovic and Nadal, Federer will not win another major tournament.
Was winning the 2010 Australian Open the last time Federer wins a major?
With each passing Grand Slam event, it sure is looking that way.