Roger Federer has won a record 17 Grand Slam tennis tournaments over the course of his career, but at age 31, 2013 promises to be the Swiss star's most challenging year yet.
Federer hasn't played in a tournament since last November's ATP World Tour Finals (where he lost to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final) and has instead opted to rest up and keep his mind free in lead-up to the first of four monumental tests this year, according to Sports Illustrated.
Like the rest of the world's top players, Federer's season will begin down under at Melbourne Park, the site of the 2013 Australian Open (a tournament Federer has won four times).
But in addition to age, Fed will be up against history this January.
Not only has it been 10 years since a male player over the age of 30 has hoisted the trophy or even reached the final of the Aussie Open, but it's been 18 years since a male player won despite not having participated in a warm-up tournament. Andre Agassi was the last to accomplish both.
There you have it. Don't go expecting Federer to crash the final just because of his lengthy résumé. After all, he's been beaten in the semifinals in Australia the last two years as a 29- and 30-year-old.
So, what can we expect from 31-year-old Roger Federer this time around?
I don't foresee the No. 2-seeded Federer making his sixth career appearance in the men's final in Australia. Instead, for the third straight time I expect Fed to bow out at the semifinal stage, most likely coming up short against a younger and much-improved Andy Murray (No. 3 seed).
I'll leave you with these telling statistics concerning Federer:
Fed's first 16 Slam titles came in the span of 27 Grand Slam tournaments (.593 winning percentage during that time). Since he won his 16th in 2010, he's won just one of 11 Grand Slam tournaments (.090 winning percentage during that time). After making 22 Slam finals in a span of 27 major tournaments, Fed has made just two finals in the last 11 Slams since (reaching the final just 18 percent of the time).
Meanwhile, he's lost in the semifinals in five of his last 11 Slams (a whopping 45.5 percent of the time), and he's dropped out in the quarterfinals in four of his last 11 Slams (a solid 36.4 percent of the time).
Therefore, I'm projecting another quality run from Fed this January, playing well into the second week but once again coming up of short of the prize in the semifinals.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter throughout the 2013 Australian Open for reaction and analysis on the year's first Grand Slam.