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Federer's demise has been way overrated, and with victories over Nadal, Fish and Tsonga (not to mention his nine victories over top-20 opponents in his last 21 matches), Federer is proving just how wrong his doubters were.
Given his eight-year run of dominance where he won 16 Grand Slams and finished no lower than second in the final ATP rankings, ending the year ranked fourth seems like a unmitigated disaster.
It really wasn't. Sure, Federer didn't win a Grand Slam, but he is playing in a golden era for tennis which not only has the greatest top four players to ever hold their respective rankings, but also a field which is as deep a collection of talent as the game has ever seen.
It was a down year for Federer for sure. But is he finished? Washed-up? No longer a threat at every tournament he enters? Of course not.
He happened to run into Djokovic—who was having the best season in the history of the sport—twice in Grand Slam semifinals, lost to the best player ever to play on clay in Nadal at the finals of the French Open and laid an egg against Tsonga at the Wimbledon quarterfinals. All in all, one less than perfect match. That's nothing to be overly upset about.
Take Nadal and Djokovic out of the equation and Federer likely wins three more Grand Slams. Even with both of them next year, it's hard to imagine Djokovic not losing more than five times and if Nadal slips in Paris, Federer is the second-best player on clay on tour.
Point is, sure it was a down year, but so long as Djokovic doesn't make an assault on history, Federer should manage to win a Grand Slam or two.
With a showdown with Djokovic looming in the ATP Finals look for Federer to set the tone for the battles that will ensue next spring.