The only person capable of making Roger Federer anything but a heavy favorite at Wimbledon is Father Time.
Of course, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who lost a tough match to FedEx in the Wimbledon final last year before beating him on the same court for Olympic gold, certainly have claims in that area.
But even in the midst of an inescapable decline, Roger Federer is still Roger Federer.
This is the greatest player of his generation—if not all time.
This is the man who has won a record seven Wimbledon titles, is the current defending champion and holds a staggering 67-7 at the All England Club.
This is the man who has made it to 36 straight major quarterfinals.
This is the man who can still make unbelievable shots like this look so effortless:
Federer has made the grass at Wimbledon his sanctuary. Despite dominant success everywhere he plays, the All England Club has been his defining venue—the one where he transcends beyond what mere mortals are supposed to be capable of.
Federer at Wimbledon over the years has been nearly as iconic as Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.
As long as he continues to play on the hallowed grounds in London, he'll continue to be a legitimate force and unrelenting favorite.
Unfortunately, the legend finally seems to be in the middle of his inevitable regression.
Shortly after fighting Murray in the semifinals of the Australian Open in January, he lost to Julian Benneteau, which, according to ESPN, was the first time in three years he had fallen to an opponent outside the top 10.
From there, things haven't gone according to plan for FedEx.
He lost to Kei Nishikori in the third round at Madrid, was crushed by Nadal twice and was handled fairly easily by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets at the French Open.
Heading into Wimbledon, his accolades compared to last year's are vastly underwhelming:
Moreover, he had 41 total match wins at this time in 2012, whereas now he has a mere 26.
Let's not kid ourselves. A less than 100 percent Federer is still better than a majority of the players in the world. And after the tournament's first day saw FedEx give a vintage straight-set performance along with his semifinal path being cleared up considerably with Nadal's upset loss to Steve Darcis, another classic Wimbledon run is undoubtedly in the forecast.
But as we have begun to realize all too painfully this year, Father Time is calling. More than anything else, it's the laws of nature that are standing in Federer's way, and this could very well be his best remaining shot at No. 18.
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