Roger Federer Must Win Australian Open to Prevent Major Downfall in 2013

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIINovember 28, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12:  Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a shot during his men's singles final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during day eight of the ATP World Tour Finals at O2 Arena on November 12, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Roger Federer wants to be the world's No. 1-ranked player again, and he's willing to play a full schedule to regain his spot atop the world rankings, per The Independent. That full schedule will begin at the Australian Open in January. Federer needs to win this tournament to get his year started on a winning note and to avoid falling in the rankings.

Federer had ascended to No. 1 on July 9, but he relinquished his spot on November 5 to Novak Djokovic, the man he'd surpassed. It was Federer's third stint as the game's top player—and also his shortest.

Federer owns the longest consecutive stay at the top spot in history. From 2004 to 2008, he was considered the best in the world for 237 straight weeks. Only three other players have spent more than 237 weeks at No. 1 in their entire careers.

Fed has spent a record 302 total weeks as tennis' best player. 

He had to work very hard to get back to the top of the rankings in 2012, but a disappointing quarterfinal loss to Tomas Berdych at the U.S. Open took away some of the momentum he had established.

At 31 years old, Federer can't afford to descend to No. 3 or No. 4 again. If he plans to spend any significant time in contention for the top spot, he must establish and maintain a pattern of excellence in the Grand Slams this year.

If he does win the Australian Open, it would be the fourth time he's captured the title in Melbourne. And he'd gain ground on Djokovic, though how much depends on how far Djoker advances himself.

From a rankings perspective, an early exit by Djoker and a tournament win by Federer is the quickest route back to the top. However, from a psychological standpoint, Federer may want to go through his rival during his ascension back to No. 1.

Either way, this is an important time for the rest of Federer's career. He must seize the opportunity while he's still playing at a high level.

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