At 33 years old, the days of Roger Federer being a dominant force on the tennis court are over. However, that doesn't mean there won't be times when we see glimpses of the superstar who was the best player in the world.
It hasn't happened yet in 2014, with Federer still looking for his first major title despite playing in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and finals at Wimbledon, but there's still one more opportunity for FedEx to make a statement at the U.S. Open.
If you believe in patterns, Federer has gotten progressively worse at the U.S. Open over the last five years after winning this tournament five straight times from 2004-08.
|Roger Federer U.S. Open Results Since 2009|
|2009||Final: Loss vs. Juan Martin del Potro|
|2010||Semifinal: Loss vs. Novak Djokovic|
|2011||Semifinal: Loss vs. Novak Djokovic|
|2012||Quarterfinal: Loss vs. Tomas Berdych|
|2013||Fourth Round: Loss vs. Tommy Robredo|
Momentum has slowly been building for Federer recently, going back to his finals match against Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon. The next two events saw him advance to the finals, including winning the Western & Southern Open on August 17 as a tuneup for Flushing Meadows.
He told reporters, via Kevin Mitchell of The Guardian, after the win that he feels even better about his chances at the U.S. Open following the win at Cincinnati:
I could have just not played here and gone into the Open feeling good about my chances; now I feel even better. On the flip coin, what was the other plan: practice, take a few days off? But then I have to grind it out in the practice. I still believe matches are the best practice right now. I’m not going to fly back to Switzerland.
The odds moved further into Federer's favor when longtime foe Rafael Nadal, who won the U.S. Open last year, announced on his Facebook page that a wrist injury would force him to withdraw from this year's event.
Federer is now the No. 2 seed at Flushing Meadows, behind Novak Djokovic. That's good news for the 17-time major champion, because he won't have to play Djoker until the finals if the seeds hold throughout the tournament.
Djokovic was the kryptonite that prevented Federer from winning Wimbledon for the seventh time and ending his two-year major drought. It seemed like the last, best chance for the longtime veteran to get a moment in the spotlight.
Instead, Lady Luck is giving Federer the rarest of opportunities in sports: a second chance. It's up to him to take advantage of this moment, but the deck has been set up in his favor. Andy Murray, who was poised to join the "Big Three" (Nadal, Federer, Djokovic) has been a mess all season and fell to eighth in the U.S. Open seeding.
We know Federer still has what it takes to keep up with Djokovic, going five sets and nearly four hours at Wimbledon, so any concern about the "old man" being at a disadvantage against the young guard is unfounded.
With the exception of Wimbledon, Federer has had more success at the U.S. Open than any other major event. He understands the hands of time are not in his favor, so this is going to be his way of putting an exclamation point on a legendary career.
If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter.