Twelve months after crashing to his worst defeat in New York in a decade, Roger Federer heads to the 2014 US Open poised to become the oldest Grand Slam champion in more than 40 years.
In an astonishing reversal of fortunes, the 33-year-old, written off as a relic of the game when he slipped to a fourth round loss to Tommy Robredo in 2013, is perfectly positioned to win a staggering 18th major at the season’s concluding Grand Slam event which starts Monday.
“I come in with great confidence,” said Federer. “I know my game is where I want it to be. It’s about just keeping that level up right now.”
Meanwhile, his fellow members of the ‘Big Four’ are slipping and sliding.
Djokovic, the 2011 champion, heads into the tournament with two dispiriting third round losses in Toronto and Cincinnati.
“Many things are just not clicking,” said Djokovic. “I’m not feeling very comfortable on the court. Obviously I want to peak in New York.”
Andy Murray, the 2012 champion, has not reached a final of any tournament since his historic 2013 Wimbledon triumph, prompting many to believe that the Scot’s work is done.
With Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro sidelined by injury, the much-vaunted next generation will get another opportunity to shine.
Serena targets 18th major at US Open
World number one Serena Williams is firing on all cylinders as she seeks to stretch her tally of Grand Slam singles titles to 18 at the US Open.
The familiar hardcourts of Flushing Meadows, where Serena has lifted the trophy the past two years and a total of five times, is just the place to end her 2014 Grand Slam drought.
“I’m in some of the best shape I’ve been in,” said Serena.
“I can play long points and be ready to go again. I feel really fit — 32 is the new 22, right?”
An actual 22-year-old, Simona Halep, will be among those trying to topple Williams in New York.
The Romanian has been knocking at the door of a first Grand Slam title this year, finishing runner-up to Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros.
Serena will also be challenged by more familiar foes, including Sharapova.
“I only have one more chance to do that this year,” she said, and admitted that such milestones matter.
“At this position, that’s where you showcase how strong you are and how much you really love it and [want] to show your legacy through the sport,” she said.
Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion, has never been past the US Open quarter-finals. But the former world number one is enjoying resurgence this season and will be back in the top 10 in the world rankings for the year’s last Slam.
“Definitely exciting times,” said Ivanovic.
In her opinion, that’s as it should be.
“We are lucky to have someone like her in our game,” added Ivanovic.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2014.
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