It is not uncommon for 31-year-old tennis players to be considered one of the favorites at the Australian Open, but Roger Federer has proved without a doubt that he is no ordinary athlete.
The talented Serbian is one of the other favorites in Melbourne, and the men’s field is littered with players ready to test Federer.
Here are the toughest potential matchups the Swiss legend will face in the year’s first Grand Slam.
Round 4 vs. No. 13 Milos Raonic
Raonic is an exciting young talent who will be eyeing a breakout year in 2013.
The 22-year-old Canadian is 6’5” and packs an incredible amount of power in his serves. He may be young, but the Australian Open is the ninth major of his career.
Raonic is currently No. 15 in the ATP rankings, and he will not go down easily. In addition, Federer will be coming off a match against 20-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic, who is quickly making a name for himself.
Facing two young players with vast potential will be an unusually difficult task for the early rounds, and Federer may start to show fatigue by the end of his match with Raonic.
Quarterfinals vs. No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Tsonga is another powerful player who will make Federer work for a trip through to the semifinals.
The talented Frenchman is one of the few players who has a recent victory over Federer in the later stages of a major after taking down the Swiss in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2011.
This will give Tsonga confidence in this match, and he will be looking to record another massive upset.
If Federer is unable to get his legs back after playing two exceptional athletes in the previous matches, Tsonga will have an excellent chance to win.
Semifinals vs. No. 3 Andy Murray
The battles between Federer and Murray over the summer were memorable and exciting. Tennis fans will hope for another thrilling showdown between these two superstars.
Federer got the best of Murray in the final of Wimbledon, but Murray was the better player when the two met again on the legendary grass courts in the gold-medal match at the London Olympics.
Now, both are projected to reach the semifinals in Melbourne. This showdown would attract a significant amount of attention and there will be a significant amount of debating over which player should be considered the favorite in the match.
For Federer to get past Murray and into the final, he will need to be nearly flawless.
Final vs. No. 1 Novak Djokovic
After going through all that to get into the finals, Federer will then have to face the world’s top-ranked player and the winner of the last two Australian Opens.
Federer and Djokovic are the two best hard-court players in the world, and this will be a fast-paced match that will test the stamina and skill of both players.
With an extremely difficult path to the final and many more years of wear and tear, Federer will be at a disadvantage against Djokovic.
The final will undoubtedly be Federer’s toughest match of the tournament. If he ends up making it through the field in Melbourne and hoisting the trophy, it will be a remarkable achievement and another reminder that he is the greatest player ever to pick up a racket.