New York, Aug 25: This year has been a disaster for former world number one Roger Federer. The Swiss has failed to win a Grand Slam in 2008 while only winning two minor titles.
Although the 27-year-old contested both the French Open and Wimbledon finals, he came up short against the newly-crowned number one Rafael Nadal - the man many people are calling his nemesis. And to make matters worse the Spaniard clinched another of Federer's main targets - a singles gold at the Olympics. As The US Open arrives, Federer is desperately clinging onto his last Grand Slam title from 2007 as his career hangs in the balance.
As it marks the 40th anniversary of the open era, the US Open will have an opening ceremony parading more than two dozen former singles champions including Federer. Will the Swiss be resigned to the old guard of former winners or will he remain a present champion with what would be his fifth consecutive US Open crown?
If Federer and Nadal contest this year's final it will be their first hard-court showdown in a Grand Slam. Nadal is still looking supreme after winning seven of his last nine tournaments, while Olympic doubles gold medallist Federer will be looking to extend his sequence in the final slam of the calendar.
John McEnroe, four-time US Open champion, knows a thing or two about major rivalries having battled the likes of Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl in classic matches in New York. 'Mac' reckons that it is now foolish to see Federer as an automatic to break all-time Grand Slam title holder Pete Sampras' record of 14 majors.
"Let's put it this way, Pete's sleeping a little better than he was about five months ago," McEnroe said on the tournament's official website. "He's thinking, 'Maybe I actually have a chance to hold on to this thing'. It is not out of the question that 14 are going to be enough. It's not going to be as easy to just mow through it the way most of us thought.