Roger Federer: Why No. 1 Seed at U.S. Open Will Net 18th Grand Slam Title

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIAugust 24, 2012

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 08:  Roger Federer of Switzerland looks at the trophy after defeating Andy Murray of the United Kingdom to win the 2008 U.S. Open Men's Championship Match in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2008 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Roger Federer admitted to lacking a bit of mental sharpness in his gold medal match with Andy Murray at the Olympics.

However, as the No. 1 overall seed at the U.S. Open, Federer won't have to face the young Brit until the semifinals, which puts him on an inside track to win Grand Slam title No. 18.

In a story by Leo Schlink of the Herald Sun, Federer elaborated on how he couldn't recover from lackluster focus against Murray in London nearly three weeks ago:

On top of that, when you play another fellow top four guy who likes to be in the lead, like myself, Murray, Rafa (Nadal), (Novak) Djokovic, it becomes that much harder.

The fine line in professional tennis between the elite players and the up-and-comers makes Federer's sustained level of greatness in his 14th year on the ATP Tour that much more staggering. Even though he is nearing the end of his career, Federer has proven he still has something left in the tank.

It looked like Rafael Nadal would overtake Federer at No. 1 in the world for good, but injuries have been his undoing. He won't be healthy enough to compete at Flushing Meadows.

Novak Djokovic seemed to be the best player in the world for much of the past year, but Federer has methodically plugged away and passed him by as well.

Although he hasn't won the U.S. Open since a remarkable five-year romp of successive championships from 2004 to 2008, Federer's recent stellar form is also a means of generating positive momentum.


After settling for silver at the Games, Federer bounced back to win the ATP Masters event in Cincinnati, capping it off by smashing Djokovic in the final 6-0, 7-6 (9-7).

Entering the U.S. Open in such fine form is an advantage for Federer, as is the delayed encounter with Murray and the absence of Nadal.

Outside of sixth seed Tomas Berdych, with whom he has split his past six matches, Federer doesn't have a lot to worry about in New York until his potential encounter with Murray.

Murray making it to the semis isn't even a lock, because Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is likely to stand in his way in the quarterfinals. Tsonga will be seeking to avenge his semifinal loss to Murray at Wimbledon earlier this year.

The last time Federer fell short of the semifinals at the U.S. Open was 2003, before he had rounded into form as, arguably, the best player ever.

In that context, I would go out on a limb to say that Federer is a mortal lock for the semifinals. As long as that is the case, he will have extra incentive to pound Murray based on their last encounter.

His potential opponent in the final would be Djokovic, the world No. 2 he just dismantled on the hardcourt this past weekend.

The window has to be closing on Federer, but then again, that's what many thought was happening over the past couple of years.

It's hard to believe Federer hasn't won his second-best Grand Slam event in nearly four years.

Considering the favorable draw, the absence of his most vicious rival in Nadal and added motivation to focus on his most difficult hurdle ahead of the final in Murray, it seems that the Fed is due to cash in.