Roger Federer hadn't won a Grand Slam singles title for over two years before he captured Wimbledon 2012.
Now, after a four-year wait, Federer will capture his sixth career U.S. Open title.
But the great ones find a way to win, and Federer is one of the greatest tennis players ever, if not the greatest.
After straight-set victories over Donald Young, Bjorn Phau and No. 25 seed Fernando Verdasco at this year's U.S. Open, the 31-year-old advanced to the quarterfinals on Tuesday when Mardy Fish had to withdraw due to health concerns.
Now, Federer faces Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, a man he knows well. He's faced the Czech 15 times in his career and won 11 times, including their last two matches.
But Berdych isn't as easy an opponent for FedEx as it seems. After all, Berdych did beat Federer in Cincinnati last year, as well as defeating him in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon 2010. He's also coming off a straight-set victory over No. 11 seed Nicolas Almagro.
The difference is, Federer looks better than he did last year, or in 2010 for that matter. Through the U.S. Open so far, he holds a 60-7 record this year, including six singles titles. That's the best record and the most singles titles he's had in a single season since 2007, when he won three Grand Slams.
Perhaps what has been so astonishing about Federer's game is his fitness hasn't deteriorated. Nadal, who is battling tendinitis, has looked worse than him physically, and Nadal is 26 years old.
If/when Federer defeats Berdych, he will likely face Andy Murray in the semifinals. Murray, of course, beat him at the 2012 London Olympics, which says something because it was on a grand stage.
But Murray doesn't have what it takes to defeat the Swiss in a Grand Slam singles event yet, and that was evident when it took him four grueling sets to dispatch No. 30 seed Feliciano Lopez in the third round (Federer also holds a 3-0 record against Murray in Grand Slams).
That likely sets up a final between FedEx and, you guessed it, Djokovic.
While Djokovic dominated pretty much everybody in 2011, this is a different year. Djokovic's edge over Federer extended to this year's French Open, but that is where it ended. Federer has won their last two head-to-head meetings, beating Djokovic in four sets at Wimbledon.
The mental edge is where Federer has the advantage now, and that can't be overstated in a game like tennis. Djokovic was feared by everyone last year during his fantastic run, but Federer has not only balanced the scale in 2012, but tipped it in his favor.
The player affectionately labeled "The GOAT" will win his 18th career Grand Slam singles title at the 2012 U.S. Open.
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