In the Open Era, only 14 players have won five or more Grand Slams, so Roger Federer should not feel too terrible that he will not be able to claim a fifth win in just the Australian Open.
I think it's safe to say that the 17-time major champ will be able to walk away from the game with no regrets, which is good because another win at the year's first major will elude him.
Federer will turn 32 this year, and he is rapidly becoming a dinosaur in tennis years. In the Open Era, only one player has claimed a major beyond the age of 32—Andres Gimeno won the French Open at the age of 34 in 1974.
Still, Federer spent last season largely defying his age. He won six singles titles, which included winning Wimbledon. He proved, with his solid season, that it is far too early to write Federer off.
However, I am going to do just that at this tournament. The problem is not with Federer. He has kept himself in great shape, his work ethic is second to none and he is still capable of looking downright unbeatable.
The problem here is with the elite, and younger, competition Federer faces.
Injury concerns means he won't have to deal with Rafael Nadal. This is a good start for Fed. Nadal has increasingly had Federer's number as the two have progressed in their careers, and he stopped Federer in the semis of last year's Australian Open by a score of 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.
Djokovic and Murray, who battled in the semifinals of last year's Australian Open, both have games that are well suited to the hard courts of Melbourne. They have elite returns and strong passing shots, and they can cover a lot of ground. While neither is dominant on his first serve, they don't need to be.
Also, both men, at 25, are six years younger than Federer. This is a huge factor in Grand Slam tournaments. With deep fields playing in a best-of-five match, navigating through the rounds of a major is a daunting task.
Federer would not be playing either of these guys until at least the semis, and by that time, their youth will allow them to be fresher and in a better position to excel in a grueling match.
It is still too soon to say Federer won't win another major. As he proved last year, he can still get the job done at Wimbledon, but he will get worn down in Melbourne, and that will be more than he can overcome when facing the younger stars of the game.
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