Roger Federer's career is on the decline, and if he fails to defend his title at Wimbledon this year, he won't win another before he retires. The former No. 1 player in the world isn't the same dominant presence on the ATP Tour that won 17 Grand Slam titles in a decade.
Rafael Nadal has crushed him this season on two different surfaces—on a hard court at Indian Wells and on clay in Rome. Federer's loss to Nadal on clay is nothing to get riled up about, but there's something to be said for the way the Spaniard was able to dominate him on a hard court.
Andy Murray has beaten him three of the last five times they faced off, Juan Del Potro has beaten him the last two times they faced one another and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga recently crushed him in straight sets at Roland Garros.
Leading up to Wimbledon, Federer finally won his first tournament of the season in Halle, Germany—the first grass-surface tournament of the year. Yet even on Federer's preferred surface, the likes of Tommy Haas and Mikhail Youzhny gave him trouble in the final two matches.
It's never fun to watch a true champion like Federer—a man who has embodied excellence on and off the court—start to lose his edge, but it's a reality all must face at one point or another.
For Federer, his edge has been waning since even before his inspired performance in last year's Wimbledon. It was his first Grand Slam title in since the 2010 Australian Open, and he has failed to make it to the final in the three Grand Slams since.
One thing that hasn't changed about the living legend is his zeal for the game he loves. He recently sent out a message to all his fans on Twitter, asking them if they shared his excitement for the upcoming tournament:
The seven-time Wimbledon champ doesn't have an easy go of it at the All England Club this year. In his quarter is fifth-seeded Nadal, who he'll likely face in the quarterfinals. Should he get past Nadal, Federer will then likely face Murray in the semifinals.
For his part, Federer has aptly pointed out that winning a Grand Slam was never supposed to be easy, as reported by Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times:
Judging by his recent history against these two men, it will take Federer's A-game to even reach the men's final at Wimbledon.
There was a time, however, not so long ago, that Federer bringing his A-game was a given. There was a time when both Nadal and Murray would have been considered underdogs against Federer on grass.
This isn't the case any longer.
Federer has reached the point in his career in which a Grand Slam victory would be a pleasant—if not shocking—surprise.
If he can't manage to win this year's tourney at the All England Club, it isn't too rash to say his time as a true contender in Grand Slam events is at an end.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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