Like most tennis enthusiasts I know, I'm a major fan of Roger Federer. His effortlessness, his sportsmanship, his talent, his personality -- the guy is a gift to all sports fans.
So it was a shame to see Federer fall at Wimbledon today, in four sets, to Tomas Berdych. In the quarterfinals!
That's two straight times Federer has failed to reach at the least the semifinals of a Grand Slam -- he also lost in the quarters of the French Open.
Federer at Wimbledon has long been a sure thing to get to the final, much like Pete Sampras used to be. The difference is that Federer was brilliant on all surfaces and Sampras just on the faster ones, which is why I consider Federer to be the greatest player of all time.
But Federer, 28, is showing signs of decline. He will actually drop to No.3 in the world ATP rankings after Wimbledon is complete -- he hasn't been that low since 2003.
Federer nearly lost in the first round of this year's Wimbledon, and he had another close call after that. He's won a record 16 Grand Slam singles titles, and he'll be a threat to win a handful more, but it's only going to get harder from here. I used to think Federer would likely reach at least 20 Grand Slam titles before he retired; now I'm not sure he'll get there. He's very vulnerable these days and while that makes for thrilling matches, it doesn't get you a whole lot of trophies.
11 months ago