It’s not that Roger Federer isn’t among the favorites to win the 2013 Australian Open, but lets just say it will be a tad surprising if he lifts his 18th Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne, six months before his 32nd birthday.
For Federer, it’ll be an attempt to win the first Grand Slam of the year for a fifth time, setting him apart from Andre Agassi as the player with the most titles in Melbourne. Federer has failed to reach the final over the last two years after winning there in 2010, beating Andy Murray.
Another connection Andre Agassi will be Federer’s attempt to win the tournament without a warmup event on his resume, not playing a single match since losing to Novak Djokovic at the Year-End Championship in London on November 12. When Federer steps on the hard courts in a scorching Melbourne summer, it’ll be after more than two months without a match.
That’s the plan for Federer in his final years on the tennis courts, still the number 2 player in the world, but someone who sees himself as a legitimate number one, a position he held for a short while last year, winning at Wimbledon for the first time since 2009. Resting as much as possible for the big events, which might mean we’ll start seeing him miss certain Masters events along the way, or at least more than in the past.
If I’m second favorite fourth favorite or eighth or whatever it might be it doesn’t change much for me. I know if I’m playing well I can win tournaments. I love the pressure of playing the new generation who are coming up and improving quickly and I have to work harder than to stay at the top, or with the best. Longevity is the word here that I am looking for and that is what I am striving for this year in 2013 to hopefully keep on playing for many years.
As long as favorite isn’t hurt by injuries (his back bothered him quite a few times last season) and fatigue, he’s still within that window in which he can present his best. On his best days, he’s better than Djokovic or Murray, but the problem is sustaining that form for nearly two weeks, or for longer than 3-hours five-set matches. When you start throwing in more calculations that have something to do with Federer being older than the rest of the major players on the tour, you begin to understand why it’s going to be harder than ever before.