Roger Federer's Slow Start to 2013 Season Will Continue at Indian Wells
Roger Federer may be the second-best men's tennis player on the planet, but he's looked awfully human to start the 2013 season.
Fed has played in three tournaments since January, but has failed to reach a single final. That's why fans can expect the 17-time Grand Slam champion's sluggish run to continue this March at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif.
After all, just as he did two months ago at the Australian Open, Federer will be going up against the world's top players in California this March. World No. 1 and hard-court master Novak Djokovic enters as the top-seeded player in the men's draw, reigning U.S. Open champ Andy Murray is the No. 3 seed and Fed could even face his longtime rival Rafael Nadal in the quarters.
If there's good news it's that Fed wouldn't have to face Djokovic or Murray until the final, but reaching the final will be a tough enough challenge for the 31-year-old.
There's no denying that Fed's age has led to a slight decline over the years. Yes, he ended his Grand Slam drought at Wimbledon last summer, but the twilight of his career is no longer approaching, it's arrived.
Coming into last year's BNP Paribas Open, which he won, Fed had two singles tournament wins to his name at Rotterdam and Dubai. But this year, Fed boasts just a 10-3 singles record and has zero tournament titles to show for his efforts.
Not only did he fail to defend his titles at Rotterdam and Dubai this year, but he failed to even the reach final at each tournament, losing in the quarters in the Netherlands last month and bowing out in the semis at the most recent Dubai Tennis Championships.
Who is the biggest threat to Fed at Indian Wells?
You have to go all the way back to 2009 to find the last year in which Federer entered Indian Wells with zero singles titles. That year, he lost in the semifinals to Andy Murray.
While a semifinal loss at Indian Wells in 2013 might not seem like the end of the world for the Swiss legend, it would be very significant, especially considering that no men's tennis player has more titles there than Federer, who's won there four times since 2004.
If Fed can't have success at some of his favorite hard-court tournaments, where will he?
It remains to be seen how long Fed's current slump will last, but based on what we've seen so far in 2013 and given the competition he'll face over the next few days in California, it's safe to say that Fed won't be repeating at Indian Wells this March.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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