The writing is on the wall.
We’ve dismissed suggestions that Federer is fading and have hoped against hope to be rewarded with another Slam this year but we were destined to be disappointed.
Federer has lost his aura of invincibility. We just failed to recognise it for what it was.
We believed that it was only Nadal who stood in his way. How we have demonised that man from Mallorca!
But we forget that our Gods are human too. We forget that they age too.
That they succumb to their mistakes.
That their creaking bones may no longer withstand the rigors of a gruelling tour.
More importantly we have overlooked the fact that Federer’s opponents are younger and fitter and need fewer hours to recover.
Federer may alter his game-plan , make a few minor adjustments , fine-tune a few nuances but his adversaries are increasing their range and adding a few more weapons to their potent armoury.
That is not an indictment of Federer. It just goes to show how close to perfection Federer already is.
The ATP tour is a treadmill and not a player can afford to stand still.
Federer, for so long, had the mode set at cruise control.
But now the setting has to be hill climbing and every step will be agonising and pain-filled.
Sampras stated that Roger would end up with eighteen slams. That may yet be a prophecy fulfilled but how long will it take?
Each time he wins a Slam there will be paeans sung and Federer fans chest thumping and ‘I told you so’s.
But it will not conceal the bitter truth that Roger’s best days are behind him.
Federer had his opponents playing catch up for so long. He raised the bar.
It was Nadal who decoded his DNA. He realized that with Federer it had to be a war of attrition.
For one for whom the wins came easy, the patience sometimes ran thin. It was, however, visible only to the truly discerning.
Federer is always a danger, always a contender, always a forerunner at the Slams.
But he is no longer a dead cert.
The Fedex is dying! Long live the Fed!