Itchy as your fingers might get, don’t start writing those obituaries and eulogies just yet. Roger Federer, going on age 33, had a tumultuous and in many ways alarming year in 2013. But did you notice how he survived round-robin play in the tougher of the two groups at the World Tour Finals to make the semis and finish the year on a high note?
Granted, Federer won just one title last year (and a relatively minor one at that, on the grass at Halle), and his match record was a distinctly un-Federerian 45-17. But he seemed to get over the troubles he experienced in the middle portion of the year by the time the year-end championships rolled around. You can bet that he feels like he’s going into the new year with a clean slate—but the same agenda—even if Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal appear to have eclipsed him.
Ad-In: Federer will continue to build on his strong finish to 2013, and take advantage of that clean slate to continue writing tennis history. Picking his spots wisely (and with the help of the exemptions he’s earned), he could focus on the tournaments that are most friendly to his aggressive style and aging body. Anyone who doubts that Federer is still capable of winning Wimbledon ought to have his head examined.
Ad-Out: If Federer gets off to a poor start in the new year, his ability to pick his spots and alternate rest weeks with training blocks and selective tournament appearances will be compromised. Worse yet, a poor start could resurrect the demons that plagued him for a significant portion of 2013—shaky nerves, self-doubt, petulance, and a lack of confidence.
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.