Is Roger Federer past his prime? Who are the real contenders for the Australian Open? Tina McCarthy previews Melbourne 2014.
Seventeen Grand Slam titles, the career Grand Slam, former world number one, the man to beat for a decade…tired yet, Fed? Apparently not. The Swiss maestro announced this week that Stefan Edberg will join his coaching team. This move is a clear indication of Federer’s acceptance of a poor run of form in 2012 and implies intent to move on with a fresh perspective and new goals. Naturally, though, it begs the question – is Federer past his best before date?
Following a spate of losses to low-ranked players throughout 2013, there has been much speculation among fans and critics alike as to Federer’s seemingly imminent retirement. But this recent move could turn out to be one last push towards a return to form and Grand Slam glory. The Fed will never allow himself to be part of a one hundred and twenty eight man draw where he is there purely to make up the numbers. How, then, can he remain a real contender? Reputation alone is not enough… there is no longer an air of invincibility about him.
Given that he is fit and healthy, there is no reason to count him out just yet. Federer still has the game and shot-making skills of a champion, but perhaps Edberg will help Federer with the accrued problem areas of consistency, choice of shot and, arguably most importantly, his confidence. If these issues are not tackled and overcome, then Federer will continue to slip further down the rankings. Let’s give him one last benefit of the doubt though and call him a dark horse for the first Grand Slam of the year.
The real contenders are undoubtedly world number one Rafael Nadal and the defending champion Novak Djokovic. Andy Murray has made the finals and semi-finals in the Australian Open since 2010 and will be eager to go one step further this year. It may sound boring to continue hearing the same names over and over again, but these men competing against each other produces the greatest tennis ever witnessed.
Finally, however, there may well be a spanner in the works for the big guns in the Australian Open. There is a feeling of a storm brewing about world number five Juan Martin del Potro. He poses a major threat – even though he has a losing record against Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Federer, he managed to record at least one win against each of them in 2013. Given their dominance, that is an extremely impressive achievement. The Argentine has already proven that he possesses the necessary weapons and liathrόidí (that’s cojones to non-Irish readers) to conquer the top men. If he can just hold his nerve, Melbourne 2014 could well prove be his for the taking.
Pundit Arena, Tina McCarthy.
Featured Image By Tigre Municipio from Tigre, Argentina [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Read More About: Top Story