Roger Federer has withstood the test of time. After coming on the scene in the early 2000s, he is now the No. 2 player in the world heading into 2013.
The Australian Open is the first big event of the 2013 season, and it will likely set the stage for the rest of the season for FedEx. Not only is it important in regaining the No. 1 overall ranking from rival Novak Djokovic, it could be the beginning of the end for the Swiss tennis star.
All signs point to Federer either proving he's better than ever, or slowly starting to fade away into the distance.
For starters, Federer is already committing to play less tennis in 2013. According to the Herald Sun, Federer plans to miss the Miami Masters for the first time since 1999 and then have several long breaks in between tournaments.
Is that an indication that he's slowing down, or that he's gearing up for a run that we haven't really seen in quite some time?
Even by his standards, FedEx had a great year in 2012. He finished with six tournament wins and fared well in the four major tournaments. With the exception of the US Open, he finished in the top four at the other three tournaments, including a Wimbledon win.
However, the Australian Open hasn't been friendly over the past two years, as the Swiss superstar has only reached the semifinals in those events.
On January 14, the event will kick off with Djokovic and Rafael Nadal now gunning for the top spot yet again. Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are also playing good tennis, the former coming off an Olympic win over Federer in London.
Douglas Perry of the Oregonian ponders whether or not the era is coming to a close in this excellent piece, noting that all of his contemporaries have gone by the wayside while younger stars continue struggling to beat the seemingly ageless wonder.
All good things come to an end, but it's going to come as a shock when Federer starts to lose his gusto.
Is this the year it finally happens? We'll start to see at the Australian Open in the new year, where Federer will yet again have to prove whether he belongs with the rest of the top talent on the professional circuit.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.