The 31-year-old Federer enjoyed a banner 2012 season by winning his seventh Wimbledon title and briefly recapturing the world No.1 ranking, highlights in a year that reaped six titles and a win-loss record of 71-12.
Strengths: Arguably the most naturally-gifted player in the game, Federer’s major weapons include his exquisite serve – which he can land in any corner of the box from the same ball-toss – and cracking forehand, which shoots through the court like no other. These tools are complemented by a mastery of all strokes – feathery touch shots, accomplished net skills and a versatile backhand. Match that with unparalleled experience on the big stage and ability to win the game’s biggest titles, and you have a player firmly in the favourites conversation at every event he contests.
Weaknesses: Undoubtedly Federer does not possess the same laser-sharp focus that saw him once enjoy seemingly-endless winning streaks. And he’s more prone to throwing in uncharacteristically poor performances (Exhibit A: 2012 US Open quarterfinal versus Berdych). Yet when you’re 31, have a family and have won every prize that there is, a dip in intensity is inevitable. Of all his shots, his single-handed backhand is the most attackable.
Opportunities: Although he may have won everything there is to win, another Australian Open title would go a long way to silencing those who may not yet view Federer as the Greatest Of All Time. It would give him a stratospheric 18th major singles title and an (Open Era) record-breaking fifth Australian crown. Plus, it would set him up for his last realistic shot at the elusive calendar Grand Slam.
Threats: Other members of the so-called Big Four are obviously Federer’s main obstacles along the path to further Australian Open glory. Murray’s constant improvement and Djokovic’s stranglehold over proceedings at Melbourne Park in the last few years will all force Federer to be wary coming in this year. Big hitters who find their form – such as del Potro, Berdych and Tsonga – also have the weapons and power to trouble the Swiss.
Todd Woodbridge, former world No.1 doubles player and Tennis Australia’s Head of Pro Tennis
“Roger’s still incredibly driven to win a major. He has that classic all-court game that can dominate at the Australian Open. He probably sees this year as his last big run at all four majors as a contender in terms of where he sits in his career … I think this 12 months will be where he’ll go one more full hard year and see what records he can set.”