Roger Federer could not reverse a disappointing finish to 2013 at the U.S. Open. The 17-time Grand Slam champion—and five-time U.S. Open champ—was eliminated from the year's final major by Tommy Robredo in the Round of 16.
Now, it is time to start looking ahead for Federer, and at this point, one has to wonder how much further the 32-year-old's decorated tennis career will last.
Federer has looked a step slower this year, and his results have been far below his standards.
The Swiss legend entered this tournament as the seventh seed, which was the first time he'd been seeded outside the top three for a major since Wimbledon in 2003. The seed, of course, came with his slip in the world rankings to No. 7.
While that isn't anything alarming for almost any other tennis player who has ever lived, for a man who has spent 302 weeks as the world's No. 1 player, it is shocking.
While Federer hasn't dropped any hints at a pending retirement, if he can't start to reverse his slide, it is safe to assume that retirement will come sooner than later.
The further Federer slips in the rankings, the harder his opening draws for tournaments are going to be, and consequently his chances of suffering early exits will increase. And at this point, it is becoming clear Federer is not in a position to triumph over such obstacles.
Federer's low ranking hints at the rapid decline of his amazing career. Last year, entering the U.S. Open, Federer was ranked No. 1 in the world.
This season, Federer has a record of 32-11 in singles play. This loss at Flushing Meadows followed a staggering second-round loss at Wimbledon.
This isn't to suggest that Federer will retire at the end of this year, but how he finishes this year will almost undoubtedly go into how he attacks the offseason and how many events he plays next year.
According to his website, Federer is scheduled for three more events this year. All of them start in October, and it ends with the BNP Masters.
With some time off in the meantime for Federer, expect him to refocus and try to put a strong end to a dismal year.