There are few names in the sporting world that are more well known than Roger Federer. Just the mention of his name will bring up comments of adulation and delight. Fewer still have taken the sport of tennis by storm like Federer has.
Of the four athletes that will be featured in this series, Roger's projection will feel more like a career analysis than a projection due to his age and achievements.
A late bloomer, Federer put his game together just in time to grab his first Wimbledon in 2003, and from there he did not look back. From 2003 through 2008, Federer has won five Wimbledon titles, five U.S. Open Titles, and three Australian Open Titles, while also making it to three consecutive French Open finals; losing to Rafael Nadal in all three.
With his all-court game that is as graceful as it is devastating, Federer is the definition of a complete player. His forehand is probably the best the game has ever seen—it's like a laser when he gets the ball in his sights.
Until Nadal finally matured into a more complete player himself, Roger could, and would normally defeat anyone, with the exception of Nadal on clay.
But sadly, time is starting to creep up on Federer, who turns 28 in a matter of months. Some might say that he's still so young, but I'm reminded of a famous quote from Indiana Jones in Raiders of The Lost Ark: "It's not the age honey, it's the mileage," and that fits perfectly in this situation.
Not only do players have a schedule that does not let up all year, they also practice for hours at a time and the mileage takes its toll—even for Roger.
Time is starting to take it's toll on his body. It happened to Pistol Pete, and it's starting to happen to Roger as well.
It's true that at this moment, Roger is starting to falter. His confidence is at an all-time low, with Nadal starting to really dominate the game, as well as Murray and Djokovic proving to be real contenders for the crown in the future.
On top of his career, Federer's time is slowly being sapped by being a new husband, and a soon-to-be-father. A half hour here, an hour here, and soon you realize that you have barely hit the practice courts all week.
It is inevitable that a champion must fall eventually, and Roger is no exception. But I am not going to write him off—not yet. This may only be a temporary dry spell or it could be a desert.
In fact, this could mirror Pete Sampras' career, when he won almost no tournaments at the end, but managed to win that last trophy to finish off his career.
For the rest of the season I see Federer continuing to endure struggles. He won't make either the French, or Wimbledon finals but will likely lose in the semi-finals. As the five time defending U.S. Open champion, he could make another inspired run this season.
But something tells me that Federer is really hitting the final year or two when he could win another slam without making some real tactical adjustments.
I think that Roger will win another slam and end his career tied with Pete. Though he will want it to be Wimbledon, I think it is more likely that it will be a U.S. Open or Australian Open, but no French.
Regardless though, Roger is undoubtedly an Icon and a great ambassador of the game. Whether he's considered the greatest is irrelevant to the fact that he can stand side-by-side with Pete and the other champions proudly, with the full knowledge that his greatness is eternal.
14 Career Slams:
Five Wimbledon Titles
Six U.S. Open Titles
Three Australian Open titles
One Doubles Olympic Gold Medal
Certainly a glittering collection of hardware.