Can Federer overtake Nadal and Djokovic?

April 23, 2011 - 0:0

As the tennis world turns its attention to the emerging rivalry between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer prepares to reassert his supremacy, and many wonder if he still has what it takes to rule the field. Federer will have the opportunity to prove his doubters wrong at the Madrid Masters next month.

Federer fell to Nadal in the 2010 final, and a win this time around would show the world that a return to the top is possible. It has been nearly a year since Federer sat atop the rankings at No. 1, a spot he once enjoyed seemingly effortlessly. But having hovered at No. 2 since October, Federer slipped to No. 3 last month, behind No. 1 Nadal and No. 2 Djokovic, and many question his ability to reclaim his formerly invincible form.
Federer is seeking to bounce back from a particularly disappointing 6-4, 6-4 loss to Jurgen Melzer in the Monte Carlo semifinals, a frustrating exit from the first clay-court tournament of the season. Since the surprising upset, Federer has returned to Switzerland to rest and continue training on clay.
Many hope that the era of Federer, who boasts a record 237 consecutive weeks at No. 1 and 16 Grand Slam titles, is far from over. Federer had a strong start to the season, taking the title in Doha in January with a straight-set victory over Nikolay Davydenko, but his performances since than have been underwhelming in comparison to his dominance of previous years.
Federer has yet to defeat Nadal or Djokovic this season. Djokovic, meanwhile, is undefeated and has outplayed Federer three times since the beginning of the year. Djokovic’s wins include victories in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, the finals of the Dubai Open, and the semifinals at Indian Wells. Federer has had similar struggles against Nadal, falling to him in the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open.
As Djokovic emerges as a more serious challenge to Nadal, some anticipate that their rivalry may eventually outshine that of Nadal and Federer. Yet many others still consider Federer and Nadal one of the greatest rivalries in tennis history, even though Nadal leads 15-8 and is 5-2 in Grand Slam finals. Federer and Nadal’s most prominent matches, like the remarkable Wimbledon final of 2008, are special memories to many tennis fans, who hope to see Federer rise again and recapture the spectacular quality that he used to show against the top players.
Djokovic’s performance on clay in the coming weeks will be revealing as the world watches to measure him against Federer, who still leads him 13-9 in career match-ups, and Nadal, who currently leads 16-9. Where the 24-year-old Nadal and 23-year-old Djokovic both have an advantage over Federer is in their youth, as some argue that at 29 years old, Federer may be on the downward slope of his prime.
The Madrid Masters will afford all three an opportunity to show off their skills, although Federer arguably has the most to prove. The tournament begins on May 1, and in addition to Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer, the field will include other top-10 players such as Andy Murray, David Ferrer, and Jurgen Melzer.
(Source: 10Balls)