Roger Federer hasn't won a major since last year's Australian Open and he had his 23-consecutive Grand Slam semifinal win streak snapped at the 2010 French, but the 29-year-old can prove he is still the dominant player in tennis by winning this month's Aussie Open.
Here are five reasons why he will accomplish the task.
Federer has won four of the last five tournaments he's entered, capturing titles in Stockholm, Basel, London and Doha—a tuneup in Qatar played earlier this month at which the No. 2 player in the world defeated the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nikolay Davydenko without dropping a set.
Over this current stretch, Federer has won 22 of 23 matches, with the only loss coming to Gael Monfils in three tiebreakers at the semis of the Masters event in Paris.
At the Barclays ATP World Tour Final in November, Federer beat five of the top seven players in the world—David Ferrer, Andy Murray, Robin Soderling, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal—and the only set he lost was to Nadal.
Federer breezed past Lukas Lacko, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3, in the first round of the Australian Open. He needed just 1:24 to bounce the Slovak, while committing just 18 unforced errors compared to 37 winners. Federer also showed good aggression by winning 16 of 20 points at the net.
Federer probably faces his stiffest test of the first week in the second round against Gilles Simon.
Simon, who reached the quarters here two years ago, is 2-0 against the world’s No. 2 player, with both matches coming on hard courts in 2008.
The good news for Federer is that Simon is not the player he was three years ago—although he looked pretty good at the Sydney tune-up—and Federer is a completely different player in Grand Slams.
He hasn’t missed the third round at a major since ’03 and the four-time and defending Australian Open champ is 11-0 in the second round at this event.
I see Xavier Malisse upsetting No. 25 seed Albert Montanes, so Federer should have no problem in the third round beating Malisse for the eighth straight time.
I predict Tommy Robredo gets past No. 16 seed Mardy Fish to reach the Round of 16, where Federer will move to 10-0 against Robredo.
Some are counting Federer out because he hasn't won a major in a year, but the Swiss master has done this before.
After winning the 2007 U.S. Open, Federer had his incredible streak of 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals snapped by Novak Djokovic in the semis of the '08 Australian Open.
Federer went on to lose in the French Open final and then had his streak of five straight Wimbledon titles broken in the greatest match ever against Rafael Nadal.
Heading into the 2008 U.S. Open, critics were saying that Federer was done, but he won that tournament and three more majors over the following 17 months, running his record to 16 Grand Slam championships.
Federer has been somewhat stubborn in the past, but he's realized recently that he has to make changes to his game in order to keep up with Rafael Nadal.
He's brought Paul Annacone on as coach, which has turned Federer into a more aggressive player on the court.
As he approaches his 30th birthday, Federer knows he can no longer rely solely on his talent and athletic abilities. He also must be smarter than his opponent, and Federer has certainly shown that over the past few months.
Since hiring Annacone last August, Federer is 39-4. He was 21-8 over his previous 29 matches.