Slowly but surely, and without many people noticing, Roger Federer has fallen out of the top four in the men's singles rankings, and it should only motivate the all-time great to turn things around in the 2013 U.S. Open, the year's final Grand Slam tournament.
Federer's fall in the rankings comes off the heels of one of the most shocking moments in the history of the Wimbledon Championships. In the second round of the 2013 tournament, Federer lost to the 116th-ranked player in the world, Sergiy Stakhovsky.
The untimely loss was a historic moment for many reasons. It marked the 31-year-old's earliest exit at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club since 2002 (that's before he won a single Grand Slam), as well as ended a streak of 36 consecutive quarterfinal appearances in Grand Slam tournaments.
The egg Federer laid at Wimbledon plummeted him to fifth in the world rankings, which is the lowest he's been ranked in over a decade, according to USA Today.
It was clear that Federer wouldn't be able to dominate the world of tennis like he had throughout much of the 2000s when folks like Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray joined Rafa Nadal as perennial contenders in each and every tournament. But to think that Federer only has two Grand Slam championships since 2010 began is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
Fortunately for the Swiss star, the year's final Grand Slam major will be a winnable one for the 17-time major champ. He's come out with the U.S. Open championship five times in his career, most recently in 2008.
Just as well, the tennis world has been increasingly parity-stricken. That only means positives for Federer, considering he'll have to defy the odds against someone like Murray or Djokovic in the USA's only Grand Slam.
He's has been a victim of that parity as of late, however.
Federer's only appearance in a Grand Slam final in the past two seasons was his 2012 Wimbledon win, and you can bet that he's hungry to get back to knocking on the door of his 18th Grand Slam victory.
What better of a place to do it than the U.S. Open? Federer probably still has nightmares of Juan Martin Del Potro stealing his sixth straight U.S. Open from his grasp in 2009, and he hasn't made it back to the final there since.
Needless to say, Federer's recent struggles and being knocked off the top of the tennis world should be enough motivation for him to get back to the final.
Now that he's ranked fifth in the world, he should be drooling at the opportunity to get back to the pinnacle of the sport.