The 2013 French Open is underway, which has the world's top tennis players pursuing one of the most prestigious Grand Slam titles of all. While Rafael Nadal may have conquered this event and made it his own, the possibility for another player to rise up and win is always present.
In 2013, that player appears to be the legendary Roger Federer.
Federer is in prime position to make a return to the French Open Finals, where he's appeared five separate times. That includes 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011, when Federer was the runner-up to Nadal.
In 2009, Federer became the first player not named "Rafael Nadal" to win the event since 2005—no one's dethroned the Spaniard since.
Even at 31, Federer remains one of the world's elite and should have no trouble making his 36th consecutive appearance in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament. In fact, Federer is in perfect position to make it even further.
Federer should make it to his sixth French Open final since 2006.
Grand Slam Brilliance
Regardless of what Roger Federer's bracket looks like, he's expected to make it deep into a Grand Slam tournament. In fact, Federer has made it to 24 Grand Slam finals and 33 semifinals since winning his first major in 2003.
That means 63.2 percent of Grand Slams have featured Federer in the Finals and 86.8 percent in the semifinals. For what it's worth, he's won 44.7 percent of the Grand Slams since Wimbledon of 2003.
That's an all time record 17 Grand Slam titles, for those keeping track.
With that being said, the French Open is unlike any other major tournament in the world. The clay courts at Roland Garros have signaled the early undoing of some of the greatest players in the world.
To date, even Federer has won just one title here—the year that Nadal was upset in the fourth round by Robin Soderling.
With that being said, Federer has made it to the French Open quarterfinals in each of the past eight years. He's made it to the semifinals in seven of the past eight seasons and the finals in five of the those events.
That's what you call a championship pedigree.
Luck of the Draw
When Andy Murray announced that he would be pulling out of the 2013 French Open due to injury, the door was opened for another player to step up and shine in his absence. Surprisingly, it's not a young player on the rise that has the opportunity to do that.
It's Roger Federer.
With Murray's absence, the power structure has placed Federer in a rather favorable position. While Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are on pace to meet in the semifinals, Federer has the luxury of avoiding the "power four" at that stage.
Instead, Federer would, hypothetically, draw one of the players hoping to break into the class of the elite. Amongst those players are the pesky David Ferrer and the upside-ridden Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but neither of those players have won a Grand Slam tournament.
Federer could have drawn Tomas Berdych, a 2010 semifinalist at the French Open, but the Czech star was upset in the first round.
There are quality players scattered throughout this tournament, and at no point can Federer afford to take the opposition lightly. With that being said, there isn't a single player on his side of the draw that can be viewed as a true equal.
As long as he plays as well as we know he can, Federer is in prime position for a rather manageable run at the French Open final.