Cape Town - Let’s not beat around the bush, at 34 nearer 35, Roger Federer is almost at the end of his stalwart career and undoubtedly looks to never win another Grand Slam - sorry.
As he begins his first stance on the grass surface of his eleventh Wimbledon tournament, Federer is under immense pressure from his critics and fans alike - as he has not won Grand Slam tournament since 2012.
2016 has been a frustrating year for the 17-time Grand Slam champion, as he has spent the bulk of the year out of action due to injury concerns and goes to the All England Club for the first time without a title behind him.
The world No 3 had to pull out of the French Open due to a knee and prolonging back injury, which subsequently ended his record major appearance streak of 65.
The Swiss star looked out of sorts when he made his ‘comeback’ in June and failed on both occasions to progress any further than the semi-finals during the ATP World Tour tournaments, Mercedes Cup and Gary Weber Open.
But how he will fare?
Federer’s record on grass is impeccable and not only that, he has been runner-up to the last two Wimbledon tournaments. So there is a guarantee that the 34-year-old will excel, but how far and will he become the first player to hold eight Wimbledon titles?
Well, it seems unlikely.
His back-to-back June tournaments were telling, regardless of it being practice leading up to the London event. The fact that a man of Federer’s calibre couldn’t notch up a low-level title and even more so considering it was on a grass type court, it’s a bit worrisome.
Federer’s weakness, which was prevalent in the German semi-final losses, was his inability to convert break points and use an advantage in his favour.
Nonetheless, there are some positives, as he has won 16 out of his 22 matches this year so far. Wimbledon is Federer’s bread and butter, he knows that ground like the back of his hand, ever since winning his first silver gilt cup in 2003.
Can he handle the opposition?
We cannot ignore the powerful and on song Novak Djokovic, he is definitely a favourite to win at the All England Club coming in as two-time defending champion and with fresh silverware from the Australian and French Open in the bag.
The Djokovic and Federer rivalry is one of the most competitive and evenly matched rivalries, although the Serbian does have a 23-22 match advantage over Federer.
The latest battle between the two occurred in January earlier this year at the Aussie Open, where Djokovic prevailed in the first two sets of the semi-final winning 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Djokovic went on to become the eventual victor securing his sixth Australian Open title.
Nonetheless, Djokovic is not the only rival the 34-year-old needs to be concerned about, a boast of players will definitely pose a threat considering he isn’t in ‘peak’ condition.
2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is among the favourites to win and with home soil advantage, he has gained additional confidence under the leadership of former No 1 Ivan Lendl and coming straight off a win from last week’s Aegon Championship.
Other bright young talent include 22-year-old Dominic Thiem, who subsequently beat the Swiss player twice this year already, and Canadian Milos Raonic is another player to watch out for, along with 18-year-old Alexander Zverev who stunned at the Gary Weber Open and defeated Federer 7-6 (7/4), 5-7, 6-3 in the semis.
Thiem and Zverev’s victories, against arguably one of the world’s best tennis players, shows that Federer may be at the beginning of the end on what has been an incredible career.
Although, I’d love to see the veteran get back in shape and win his eighth Wimbledon title, it seems highly unlikely to happen. However, if he does win, he’ll become the oldest Wimbledon champion.
Federer is seeded third and his first outing is on Monday against Argentina's Guido Pella.