2017 Australian Open: Roger Federer's last hurrah?February 03, 2017

Bjorn Borg made a bold prediction last summer. Roger Federer would call it a career anytime soon. He was about to take a six-month break (to heal a knee injury), uncertain if he could return to the top of the men's game. The Swiss dispelled doubts last Sunday, defeating Rafael Nadal in five sets. He was a Grand Slam champion one more time.

Federer set numerous records after that epic final. He won his 18th major trophy, which might not be surpassed by the other members of the Big Four. He won the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open five times at least, a record that might not be matched by another player. He was the second-oldest player to win a Grand Slam title (after Ken Rosewall). His fifth Australian Open title put him one title shy of matching the all-time record shared by Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson. And he became the second player (after Djokovic) to pass the $100 million prize money milestone.

Luck played a part in Federer's victory, as he was supposed to play Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. Mischa Zverev beat the current top-ranked player in the fourth round. The long layoff helped Federer prevailed over Kei Nishikori in five sets. He defeated Stan Wawrinka by the distance in the semifinals. Let's not forget the hard court in Rod Laver Arena, which was faster than the previous years. It favoured Federer's attacking style.

Pat Cash called Federer's medical timeouts as legalized cheating. The Swiss Maestro could be forgiven if it was really the case. Fans loved to see him win a Grand Slam title one more time (and many Aussie fans didn't like Cash.) Federer's speech during the trophy presentation alarmed some fans. Could he be hinting of a retirement after his 36th birthday?

“If I do get injured, maybe I miss next year. Who knows what happens? You never know when your next grand slam is going to be, if ever. You never know if you're going to have an opportunity at this stage," he said.

Dubai, where Federer has a home, will be the venue of ATP 500 series tournament later this month. He won the event seven times, so fans would expect him to go for his eighth title. And then Indian Wells next month. What could happen afterward may be anyone's guess. Federer may skip Miami, even the clay-court season in Europe. He would be in full swing during the grass-court events (leading to Wimbledon). As the Australian Open have shown, the Swiss had felt his 35-year-old self a number of times. There could be a possibility of missing the game during the rest of the first half of the season.

Here's a fearless forecast: Nadal will win his 10th French Open title this June; Grigor Dmitrov will make his breakthrough in Wimbledon. And Murray will capture his second US Open later this summer. What about Djokovic? Boris Becker's absence would make him vulnerable this season unless there would be a change of heart from both sides. As for Federer, he might be thinking of a 19th Grand Slam title. This could be his motivation (to play next season). You're not a Federer fan if you disagree with it.

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