Roger Federer's 2013 season has been frustrating to say the least.
There are, however, plenty of opportunities to catch Murray, and ultimately Novak Djokovic, before Wimbledon in late June.
Once May rolls around, Federer's quest begins with three consecutive chances to build momentum on clay. The Madrid Open and Italian Open lead nicely into Roland Garros.
Federer won in Madrid last year and he followed up with a semifinals performance in Italy and France. Obviously, though, losing to Djokovic in each tournament prevented Federer from reaching the top spot until July.
Getting there sooner this year simply gives more leeway in terms of ending the campaign at No 1. His motive to compete and win also still resides, as Mike Dickson of the Daily Mail wrote in mid March:
Federer concedes that the forthcoming break will not help his ranking in the short term but believes it will make him more dangerous for the summer’s three Grand Slams: 'If you play well then you can manage your schedule, but with the rankings you do need to win the tournaments you actually play. I know when I’m playing well I always have a shot.
'This year the priority is a big build up then coming back really strong for the Masters events in Madrid and Rome before Roland Garros.'
Without question, that would also give Djokovic, Murray, Ferrer and Nadal additional opportunities to knock him off. But hitting the pinnacle sooner also allows a bit more room for error combined with the time to get back on track.
And just last year we once again saw Federer's capabilities post-French Open.
Although the Gerry Weber Open isn't too appealing of an event by comparison, it did provide the Swiss star with enough consistency to rock the courts of Wimbledon. He reached the finals in the 2012 Gerry Weber and won Wimbledon.
Upon taking his lone Grand Slam of 2012, Federer held the top spot until early November and lost the Barclays final to Djokovic. If anything, failing to reach the finals in Australia, France and the United States impacted the end result of the season.
On the contrary, Djokovic reached the final in the first two Slams of 2012 and again in the US Open.
The gap was not too drastic and he was able to capitalize when facing Federer.
Well, the same cannot be said for Federer right now as he is quite far back of Djokovic. And winning consistently now before Wimbledon is required to reach the top and provide himself with increased odds of finishing No. 1 in 2013.
Missing on these upcoming tournaments will just extend Djokovic's and Murray's leads and make this season a two-man race to the top.
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