Roger Federer is almost as iconic as tennis itself.
The Swiss maestro is a decorated athlete within the sport with his 17 Grand Slam titles and will no doubt go down as one of the greatest male tennis players in history.
If not the greatest.
Yet whilst Federer is a living legend with the sport, the reality is that he is no longer head and shoulders above the rest of the class. The likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have all improved dramatically on where they were five years ago in the middle of Federer's dominance and have caught up to the legend in some regard.
The Fed Express is no longer the man everyone is gunning to beat; there are now four guys to beat in every major tournament—all of whom are capable of winning.
Granted, the 31-year-old is still one of the top players in the game, and he currently holds the world No. 2 ranking to show for his incredible consistency and talent.
Yet he longer has the sole dominance that he had in the past decade of the sport and arguably never will again in the remainder of his career.
The biggest question, then, is, just how high can Federer go once more?
If he'll never make it back completely to where he was, can he still become the "top dog" in men's tennis once more as it were? Can he triumph over Djokovic, Nadal and Murray to the extent that he is considered the man to catch in all major tournaments once more?
Can he become the world No. 1 player again?
The answer is undoubtedly yes. Federer has had and still does have every piece of physical, mental and technical skill to become the top player in the world.
After all, he's proven it time and time again throughout his career.
Having held the world No. 1 ranking for a record 302 weeks (and 237 weeks in a row), Federer in fact has more of a claim to the top ranking than anyone else.
He has proven time and time again that he deserves to be the top player in the game, and with more Grand Slam titles, career titles and wins than the other men in the Big Four, he still has a claim to that ranking today—despite the apparent dip in form.
Simply put, given all that Federer has achieved, it's hard not to consider him a threat to becoming the world No. 1 again. He's simply that good.
On his day, Federer has shown that he can triumph over Djokovic, Murray and Nadal, and he's shown that he can still do it in this current climate also.
Champion at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships; runner-up at the 2012 London Olympics; runner-up at the 2012 Year-End Championship Finals.
The 31-year-old made 10 singles finals in 2012, and with a strong showing at the 2013 Australian Open—going down in five sets to Andy Murray—he showed that he still has all of guile, skill and mastery still locked away for use whenever he needs to display it.
Sure, Federer has no doubt lost some of his skill and dominance, and sure, the talent around him has closed in on him at the top of the class. But despite all of that, there is no doubting that the Fed Express still has what it takes physically to succeed on the court and emerge as the world No. 1.
He's just too good to consider otherwise.
Especially given that at the moment, his mental strength is still so strong.
Despite the constant talk of him being in decline and those around him catching up in terms of dominance, Federer's mental strength is still as strong as ever, with the Swiss maestro believing completely in his ability to get it done on the court. In fact, if you ask Federer, he still believes he can become the world No. 1 again—which could be the greatest reason of them all behind his potential success.
Federer recently spoke about the No. 1 ranking (via Fox Sports), and whether or not he felt he had the physical and mental ability to win back the top spot.
Absolutely realistic, if you play great. Time will tell. I know it's possible. I know it's possible to win tournaments.
But right now, a big focus is on making sure every tournament I enter that I'm perfectly prepared, like for here, for Australia, for Indian Wells. I want to give myself the best possible chance to play as long as I can.
Eventually, it will be clear that it is time to stop, but the time is definitely not now. But then again, things change very quickly. You have to be ready for it and open to it. I'm not naive that I can play for 15 more years, but I would like to give myself a chance to play for many more years to come. I'm happy with where my body is at.
It seems pretty hard not to believe in yourself when you have the resume and career achievements that Federer can lay claim to in his life.
It also seems pretty hard not to consider yourself as having a genuine chance for the No. 1 ranking when you have the legacy and impact that Federer has every time he steps on to the court—plus every success he achieves when he steps back off of it.
The 31-year-old is still playing quality tennis and consistent tennis—something that few of his rivals can attest to doing over the past few years on tour.
And he's still got a real chance at the world No. 1 spot because of it.
Can Roger Federer ever become the world No. 1 again?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!