ROGER Federer continues to defy the ageing process but even the great Swiss will know the window of opportunity to add to his Grand Slam haul is growing narrower every passing month.
Yet when the 38-year-old begins his 21st Australian Open campaign next week only the foolhardy would write off his chances of another Melbourne miracle.
Federer is bidding for a seventh Australian Open title and a record-extending 21st Grand Slam trophy but will require a near-perfect fortnight and a slice of fortune to achieve it.
His path is littered with obstacles, some more familiar than others. Champion Novak Djokovic, fresh from leading Serbia to the ATP Cup title, will loom over the draw while world No. 1 Rafael Nadal arrives fighting fit.
Then there are the likes of Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and Russian Daniil Medvedev, the leaders of a fearless next generation, both desperate and destined to land a first Grand Slam title.
Unlike all of his rivals Federer, who last tasted Grand Slam glory at the 2018 tournament Down Under, opted against playing for Switzerland at the ATP Cup, preferring to pack in some more family time before launching his 22nd season.
His last match was a defeat by Tsitsipas in the ATP Finals in November. Then again Federer usually hits the ground running in Melbourne, memorably three years ago when, after a six-month injury lay-off, he beat Nadal in an epic final to win the title. – Reuters