Roger Federer is no doubt one of the greatest men's tennis players of all time, but his skills have waned in recent years. A win over Andy Murray at the Australian Open is necessary for him to remain at the top of the sport.
Granted, Fed-Ex did win Wimbledon last year, but it's clear that his dominance no longer exists in the sport. That became more of a reality near the end of 2012 when Murray defeated him in the 2012 Olympics in London.
After his loss to Murray, Federer dropped an unexpected semifinal matchup to Tomas Berdych at the U.S. Open, ending his quest for a second consecutive major. To put the loss into perspective, Federer has only tasted defeat in four of the pair's 15 career meetings.
Murray's surge to the top of the sport has been well documented over the past few years and his win over Federer in London helped put Murray on track to have the advantage in their overall head-to-head history (10-9).
While that might be just another sign that Federer is on the downside of his career, it also shows that Murray is surpassing the legend as one of the top players in the sport, whatever the reason might be.
If Murray were to once again beat Federer and move on to the final, it's safe to say that the Australian Open finale will be between the two best in men's tennis: Murray vs. Novak Djokovic.
That will be a hard pill to swallow for Federer fans everywhere, but it will be the reality nonetheless.
However, Federer can halt that notion if he can stop Murray in his tracks. Not only will Federer be back in the spotlight of a major final, but he will also even his head-to-head record with Murray at 10 wins apiece.
Furthermore, if Federer can go on to beat Djokovic in the final, it would once again cement Federer as the clear-cut best in the sport.
But the road to that distinction will start with a win over Murray in the semifinals.
If he can't pull it off and Murray bounces him out of the first Grand Slam of the year, Federer will be the third best men's star in the world.
And that's only because Rafael Nadal has yet to take the court this year.