This year's dog days of summer can be best summarized by the dogged speculation now surrounding Roger Federer's tennis future.
As the five-time US Open champion prepares for this year's 2011 tournament in Flushing, NY later this month, a volley of doubt has found firm footing in Federer's court.
Once the world's most dominant player, the now 30-year-old Federer has caused some to question whether he has lost his championship form for good.
Federer finds himself ranked third behind younger tennis studs—24-year-old No. 1 Novak Djokovic and 25-year-old No. 2 Rafael Nadal, and has failed to lift the championship hardware in the last six Grand Slam events over the past year.
In addition, the 16-time major champ has deflected unwarranted remarks from emerging teenager Ryan Harrison who carelessly commented that Federer has lost his swagger when facing both Djokovic and Nadal.
However, always the consummate professional, Federer downplayed Harrison's criticism and all other sports world speculation about his declining dominance. He continued his predictable workmanlike training in Switzerland for the August 29 start of the US Open.
Federer has always spoken loudly with his racket and his impeccable preparation.
His tennis knowledge will motivate him further going into this month's tournament knowing that other 30-somethings like Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Rod Laver have captured the US Open crown.
As the dog days of summer encroach upon this year's US Open in Flushing Meadows, expect very little bark, as usual, from the normally reticent Federer.
Regardless, count on a whole lot of bite all the way to center court the second week in September from arguably tennis' greatest player ever.
Straight talk. No static.
MIKE—the ultimate talking head on sports!