Tennis great Roger Federer has accomplished so much in his career. His 16 Grand Slam singles titles are the most in the history of men's tennis. He's one of the few who have completed the career Grand Slam, and he also has an Olympic gold medal in doubles. His body of work in the mid to late 2000s set the bar so high for him that his recent results are leaving me lost and confused.
Sure, the Swiss Maestro is still winning most matches against the weaker competition with relative ease. But after his convincing loss tonight against Rafael Nadal at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami (6-3, 6-2), it doesn't look like he's going to be able to even challenge for regular titles, let alone Grand Slams where all the top players bring their best stuff to the table.
He is 0-4 against Nadal and Novak Djokovic in 2011 while defeating everyone else (21-0). Djokovic is still undefeated this year while Nadal is moving towards becoming the best player of all time, leaving no real place for Federer anymore, except semis and quarters.
I know Federer loves the game of tennis, but it just seems to be getting worse and worse for him. A few years ago, he was just dominating the game, but the combination of age, the emergence of Djokovic and a loss in the mental edge that he used to own over every player other than Nadal has left him looking for all kinds of answers. I know it can't be easy for him because even as a fan, it's really hard to see him continue to lose to Djokovic and Nadal time and time again.
Federer has only one Grand Slam win since he completed the rare French Open/Wimbeldon double in 2009. His loss in the 2009 U.S. Open final to Juan Martin del Potro signaled the start of his demise from the top to me. Not only was it the first time that he lost in a Grand Slam final match to someone other than Nadal, he had a rare blowup with the umpire in that loss.
His legacy is still pretty strong at this moment, and while I hope the best for him in the clay and grass court seasons, if I were him I would be thinking about retiring right now. Over the last few months, I've been wondering what it would have been like if he just did so after the 2009 Wimbeldon epic final win over Andy Roddick where he passed Pete Sampras' all-time Grand Slam record because it doesn't seem like he has much of a chance to go out on top any more.