Roger Federer hasn't been getting a ton of love during his 2013 struggles, but not everyone has completely written him off.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal expects Federer to be back at the top of his game in 2014 despite his downward trend. Speaking at a news conference at the Paris Masters, per Sky Sports, Nadal shared his thoughts on the Swiss superstar and the upcoming year.
"I don't have any doubt that he will be playing better than what he did this year," he said. “No doubt about that. His talent allows him to keep being one of the favorites, to keep winning the best tournaments of the year.”
Nadal added: "I am sure that he's not finished. He will work hard in the off-season to be ready for 2014. I am sure he will be back playing great tennis again."
It’s a nice sentiment. It really is. But at 32, Federer’s career is on a downward spiral.
He is 40-13 this season, marking his fewest total wins since he went 49-21 as a baby-faced 20-year-old in 2001.
Federer, ranked No. 6, failed to win a major tournament this season.
In August, he withdrew from the Rogers Cup event in Montreal because of a back injury. The week before, he lost in the first round at the Swiss Open to No. 55 Daniel Brands.
Brands has never been ranked higher than No. 53 on the ATP Tour.
Things got so bad for Federer this year that he elected to try a racket change midseason before the U.S. Open. He went from a 90-inch racket head he’s used since 2002 to a prototype 98-inch racket head.
Even American great Pete Sampras was telling Federer to calm down.
“I don't think he needs to panic and feel like he needs to change everything,” Sampras told The New York Times in August.
Federer had just one win against a Top 10 opponent during the 2013 season all the way back in January when he got past No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Australian Open.
This past weekend, the Swiss native lost to Juan Martin del Potro in his hometown at the Swiss Indoors event. It was his first final appearance at an event this season since June, when he won a low-key grass-court event in Halle, Germany.
There’s no question Federer is one of the greatest of all time. His 17 Grand Slam victories indicate that.
But for Nadal to say Federer will be back better than ever next season? Come on Rafa, you’re smarter than that.