Defending Wimbledon champion Roger Federer came up short of his goal to become the greatest champion in the history of the All England Club this summer, losing in the second round to Sergiy Stakhovsky, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, 7-6.
While the greatest men's tennis champion of all time has nothing left to prove at Wimbledon, his disappointing exit will only feed into the talk of his decline. Federer will turn 32 years old in August before heading to Flushing Meadows for the 2013 U.S. Open.
Tennis fans shouldn't expect the 17-time Grand Slam champion to bounce back at the season's final Slam, though.
After all, Federer has just one Grand Slam title to his name in his past 14 major tournament appearances dating back to the 2010 French Open. Even more telling, he's made just two tournament finals over that time.
Therefore, Fed's Wimbledon defeat is even more discouraging for his U.S. Open chances, and doesn't bode well as the season shifts back to the hard courts.
He's still an elite player with unrivaled experience and precision. But his serve isn't the reliable weapon it once was and the wear and tear that comes with playing well over 1,100 professional singles matches has begun to show.
Plus, Federer is trending down at Flushing Meadows. Since winning five straight championships there from 2004 to 2008, he's lost earlier and earlier in his past four tries. He fell in the final in 2009 before losing in the semifinals in 2010 and 2011. Last year, he lost to Tomas Berdych in four sets in the quarterfinals.
And after losing in the semifinals of the 2013 Australian Open back in January, Fed is now 0-6 in his last six hard-court Slams, failing to reach the final each time.
He should have no problem reaching the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open for the 10th straight time this summer, but that's when the doubts creep in. There was a time when Fed was seemingly a lock to win it all. Now, he can run into trouble against any top-10 player in the later rounds.
While you have to credit the improved competition in the men's game and the emergence of the other members of the Big Four over recent years for Federer's struggles, there's no denying that the Swiss legend is no longer the player he was four or five years ago.
And considering it's been four years since he reached the final at the U.S. Open, and five years since he last won it, look for yet another deep run from Federer at Flushing Meadows to end in disappointing fashion.
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