When Roger Federer famously implied this time last year that any slam stretch—be it the clay court season, the grass court season or the US Open Series—that did not yield a slam title at its end ought to be labeled a failure, he took his fair share of flak.
These were tough words—Rafael Nadal did not agree and certain sects of tennis fans also did not agree. In fact, the debate rages on.
What there can be no debate about though, is the pedigree of the man. He's won a slam title on every surface there is, he has the record for most Grand Slam titles won and whilst approaching 30 years of age, he remains competitive.
His form coming into the French Open is not as spectacular as the likes of Nadal and Djokovic—surprise losses to Jurgen Melzer and Richard Gasquet in Monte Carlo and Rome respectively have left him short of playing time, but his one source of encouragement is the semifinal match he played in Madrid against his biggest rival, Rafael Nadal.
Taking Nadal to 3 sets is no mean feat and that Federer was able to do so, spoke a lot for the viability of his game. Roger Federer is not quite the same as he was during his peak, but judging from performances late last season, his best form is just the flick of a switch away. Now that is power.
In the aftermath of the Federer statement referenced above, I personally congratulated him. I thought it was very brave to hold oneself strictly to such lofty standards. Not content with just being the greatest player in history, Federer wanted to raise the bar even higher. In essence, he was saying, if you don't have the slam, you have nothing.
Some question how effective he can be in the Nadal-Djokovic era. Others think that winning the French Open is important to his legacy. What's for sure is that in the coming French Open, he has everything to lose and everything to gain.
No one man should have all that power.