The King is back, and after failing to reach the finals at the Australian Open in each of the last two tournaments, Roger Federer is ready to claim his fifth title at Melbourne Park.
With a win, Federer would move past Ken Rosewall, Andre Agassi and Jack Crawford and move one title closer to catching all-time No. 1 Roy Emerson, who won six titles between 1961 and 1967.
Entering the 2013 tournament as the No. 2 seed on the men's side, Federer will be looking to rebound from his disappointing showing at the 2012 U.S. Open, where he looked the part of a mere mortal and bowed out in the quarterfinals against Tomas Berdych in four sets.
That won't happen again.
Coming off a much-needed break from Grand Slam competition, Federer will be rested and refreshed, and that's bad news for the rest of the field.
On the heels of the tournament, according to ESPN's Kamakshi Tandon, Federer sounded relaxed but ready to make a deep run, despite a decidedly less aggressive preseason schedule.
Federer has little left to prove. He comes in without any warm-up events, having decided to make a later start to the season after playing some exhibitions in South America last month. "It's been very relaxing, the last one-and-a-half months," he said before the tournament began. "Not many appearances, no press almost. Just focusing on getting ready mentally and physically, really.
"Now I feel fine. I arrived really early, two, three days earlier than in the past, which has been quite nice. I feel like I have an extra two, three days of a cushion, which is honestly good to have before a Slam sometimes."
Last season, with the added stress of playing at the Olympics in between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, Federer clearly tired by the end of the season, but with ample time to recharge and reflect on the 2012 season, he'll be at his best, especially at the first Slam of 2013.
Federer's biggest competition within his quarter of the draw is the powerful No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but Federer's string of nine straight semifinals appearances at the Australian Open won't end this year.
As arguably the greatest tennis player to ever pick up a racquet, Federer's legacy won't be impacted in the slightest if he never wins another Slam, but part of what's made Federer so dominant is his relentless desire to win, and after a disappointing end to 2012, he'll be hungry to show the world he's not done yet.
He's won Slam finals on hard courts against both Djokovic and Murray, and given how well he played in 2012 until fatigue set in after the Olympics, his best chance at winning a Slam in 2013 may be the first of the year.
If there's one thing we've learned about Federer over the last decade, it's that when he's rested, he's virtually unstoppable, and that's why he'll add to his 17 Slams in Australia.
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