There was a time when Roger Federer's appearance in a Grand Slam final was not just a regular occurrence, but expected. That has now passed, but the 33-year-old refuses to step out of the spotlight for good.
Now fiercely competing with the likes of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and usual rival Rafael Nadal, the Swiss legend no longer rattles off his two majors per year. But if his play this summer is any indication, he'll be a leading contender for this year's final major—the 2014 U.S. Open.
With a No. 4 seed at Wimbledon, Federer reclaimed his old stomping grounds with a furious run to the championship final. It took a five-set thriller and Djokovic's best to down Federer, but it came with the feeling that he would be back around sooner rather than later.
Federer hasn't lost his touch since being narrowly defeated at the All England Club. He has gone on to participate in the ATP World Tour, where his performances have only continued to impress.
Competing in the Rogers Cup for the first time since 2011, Federer beat David Ferrer and went on to the final before being topped by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
So far at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, the second-seeded Federer is continuing to roll. He faces off against Andy Murray in the quarterfinals, with a chance to win his sixth title at the event.
Simply put, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone else—including any of the Big Four—in men's tennis who is playing better than Federer at the moment.
The tennis expert would likely take Djokovic after his Wimbledon win, but early exits in his last two tournaments suggest his form might be headed in the wrong direction.
Nadal has shown an immunity to injuries time and time again, but he's been kept out of ATP events this summer and is still undecided on if he'll even play in New York. Murray should be a contender but boasts his lowest singles ranking in years and is still transitioning to his new coach.
Meanwhile, Federer continues to be the most consistent of the four top tennis stars throughout this season.
Other stars have come and stayed, but Federer's greatness has lasted, and it's something other top tennis players emulate, per Amy Fetherolf of The Changeover:
Sloane Stephens: "Everyone wants to be like Roger Federer ... If I say there is one guy that's perfect, I'd say that Roger is probably it."— Amy Fetherolf (@AmyFetherolf) August 13, 2014
Of course, there are many more standouts expecting to contend in New York outside of the Big Four. The ATP circuit is a time when some of those lesser-known players build momentum to make a U.S. Open run.
How will Federer perform in the 2014 U.S. Open?
But the end of the season is also when the most in-form players bring out their best and blow away the competition. Look at 2012 when Murray was emerging, or 2011 when Djokovic pummeled everyone he played late in the year. Both cruised to U.S. Open victories to close it out.
This year, if anyone has been finishing strong, it's Federer. And don't think he hasn't noticed the opportunity opening up this month as he chases his first U.S. Open title in six years.