Roger Federer’s best days may be behind him, but he’s far from finished.
Federer bowed out of the Australian Open short of the finals each of the last two years, and this year’s tournament may be his best chance to prove he still has what it takes to compete with the best players in the world.
Federer has made it through the second round of the tournament with little resistance. It appears, at least for now, that Fed-Ex is ready to make a run at his fifth Aussie Open title, and add another prestigious victory to his legacy.
While he will likely be remembered as the best to ever play the game, Federer can’t win tournaments based on that distinction. Federer’s playing style—though electric and entertaining—will have to adapt as his career continues. At 31 years old, he may be losing a step.
Federer appeared worn out by the end of last season, and he took extra time this year to relax before the Australian Open (via ESPN). Perhaps it was a necessity for an aging star, or perhaps Federer just chose to prepare more fully for the event. In any case, he’s no longer in the youth of his career.
He is known for his quickness, speed and athleticism on the court. As with any aging athlete, those traits are the first to diminish as a career wears on.
2013 can still be a successful year for Federer, though. He is still an elite player and it’s unlikely we will see Fed-Ex fade from the spotlight any time soon. But with age and the wear of a long season, Federer may have to make some adjustments.
Finesse has never been a problem for Federer. His accuracy and devastating forehand are just parts of his game. But given his slight decline recently, it’s time for him to focus on the parts of his game that will allow him to prolong his season and take less of a toll on his body. He needs a stylistic change.
Federer doesn’t need to do anything drastic, and he’s always been great at tweaking his game to suit his needs and limitations. As he has progressed in his career, Fed-Ex has completely rounded out his game, and he’ll need to continue to evolve going forward in order to continue playing at an elite level.
2013 may be a final chance for Federer to prove he is still the best tennis player on the planet. It will take more focus, and potentially less tournaments on the schedule, but Fed-Ex has always had the determination and desire to be the best.