World No. 3 Roger Federer enters the 2014 U.S. Open as a five-time champion of the prestigious tournament. This year, he's aiming for No. 6.
This year, he'll get it.
Federer hasn't reached a final in New York since 2009, but there are plenty of reasons to believe the Swiss star will do it again.
It all starts with Federer's current hot streak. He's been playing out of his mind lately, showing brilliant form that hasn't been prevalent in quite some time—mostly due to nagging injuries.
This season, Federer has claimed four titles, including winning two of his last four events at Halle, Germany, and Cincinnati. In the other two—Wimbledon and Toronto—he reached the finals, only to fall to Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, respectively.
Sports Illustrated tweeted Federer's most recent accomplishment:
The world's No. 3 player hasn't just been playing well, he's been decimating opponents. Let's take his performance at Wimbledon for example. Through his six match victories at the All England Club, Federer won in straight sets five times—he won in four sets against No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinal.
Creating such success on tennis' biggest stage was certainly a huge confidence booster for Federer going forward. He spoke of his mentality entering the U.S. Open during a press conference, via Joel Drucker of USOpen.org:
I'm coming in with great confidence. I can really rest now, rather than having to work on stuff. So it's just about maintaining, and that's also really good for the mind.
I can just enjoy New York for what it is and go out to the practice courts and do the opposite of what I had to do last year when I went out there and did three‑hour practice sessions and went for extra practice sessions after matches sometimes. I know my game is where I want it to be. It's about just keeping that level up right now.
With Federer's confidence extremely high and his form impressive as ever, what else could possibly play into his favor? Well, that would be this year's draw.
First off, his long-time nemesis, Rafael Nadal, withdrew from the tournament due to a wrist issue. He had this message to his fans, via his Facebook account:
I am very sorry to announce I won't be able to play at this year's U.S. Open a tournament on which I've played 3 consecutive finals in my last participations. I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things... Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.
Nadal is the defending champion and has reached the final in three of the last four editions of the tournament. Without the world's No. 2 player in the field, Federer's draw becomes far more favorable.
USA Today Sports tweeted the change in the tournament's favorite:
In Federer's half of the bracket, No. 4 David Ferrer is the next highest-ranked player. Federer not only holds a career record of 16-0 against the fourth seed, but he's already defeated him twice this year.
On the other half of the bracket, Djokovic has a rather difficult path. The No. 1 seed will likely face such fierce competition as Wawrinka and Milos Raonic—or possibly Andy Murray or Tsonga instead—en route to the final.
That's no easy task.
This is the greatest chance Federer's had in quite some time to earn his 18th major title. If he can keep up his current pace, there's no reason to think he won't be hoisting the trophy for the sixth time.