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Will Federer's downward slide lead to his retirement?
Roger Federer ranks as one of the best players to have ever played the game of Tennis such as Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl, and John McEnroe - just to name a few legends. But Federer's recent performances has shown that age and slack in reflexes is showing in his game, and that he might be forced to contemplate retirement soon if he is unable to compete at the highest level.

In a string of inconsistent performances, Federer has not been able to show his class against top players. The recent example being his quarter-final exit in BNP Paribas, where he was completely outplayed by Rafael Nadal - losing the match 6-4 and 6-2. It was a below-par performance from Federer. Is the Swiss legend nearing his retirement?

From 2003–09, the Swiss player was at his menacing best thrashing almost all players who came in between his titles. He won an incredible 15 Grand slam titles during that period along with innumerable ATP tour titles as well. It was a phenomenal run and Fedex had got into the habit of winning titles after titles.

But post 2010 till date he has won only two Grand slams – the 2010 Australian Open and 2012 Wimbledon, and a few ATP tour titles here and there. This is not the Federer one is accustomed to seeing on the court. In 2011, it was for the first time that the player did not win a single grand slam title since 2003. The three remaining Grand Slam Championships of 2013 could play a pivotal role in his career and retirement.

Off late what surprises Fedex fans is the way he loses regularly against players such as Murray, Djokovic, and Nadal. Federer while playing against lower-ranked players looks great but when he comes up with higher-ranked players, his shots become weak, he makes unforced errors, plays rash shots and loses the match in the process.

Losing against players like Tomas Berdych does not auger well for Fedex. The modern game of tennis is extremely competitive - typified by players like Murray who overcome lack of natural talent through hard work and cutting-edge trianing and coaching. There is evidence of lack of speed in Federer's game of baseline powerplay. Look at the way Federer is being attacked by players such as Djokovic and Murray on the baseline. Though, he is gradually coming to terms, but other players are coping faster than the Swiss.

Earlier, he used to raise the bar while playing against top players and it would get the best out of Federer. In his past 2 grand slam seasons in 2011 and 2012, he has faltered in the semi-finals four times, whereas between 2005-2008, he only lost in three semi finals and won 13 such encounters.

We are three months into 2013 and Federer is still trophy-less. From the above stats one can clearly state that the player is past his prime. But the million-dollar question in many tennis fans' mind is - when will the player retire? Irrespective of when he retires, he will go down as one of the legends of the game. There was a time, when he was the king on the court, but things have changed now.

Federer is scheduled to play only 14 tournaments this calendar year. Do we need to read into this reduction of tournaments as a hint of retirement? But one can also look the other way around and say he is doing so to prolong his career and is taking a conscious effort to play only in high-profile tournaments. But there are a number of factors that lead us to think that retirement is far away from Federer.

He is just 31 years old, and many players continue to play well in their 30s. He still has not last the flair and charisma, which one was habituated to see in him. On his day, no one can entertain us more than the Swiss legend with his magic on the court. It would be difficult for anyone to take a guess on his retirement for it is best not to pressurise him. Great players know when the time is ripe to retire.

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