Roger Federer is clearly a shell of his former self, but a declining Federer is still better than most players in their prime.
As such, he still shouldn't consider retirement.
Granted, the argument supporting the opposite is now at an all-time high. After looking quite bad in defeat (43 unforced errors in three sets) to Tommy Robredo—a player who had never made it past the fourth round previously at the U.S Open—the figurative cherry has been put on top of the disappointing sundae that is Federer's 2013 season.
He has lost to players such as Julien Benneteau, Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Federico Delbonis, Daniel Brands and now Robredo. He has reached just two finals after reaching three times that many every year since 2003. He has won just one title, his lowest tally since 2001. He lost in the second round at Wimbledon, where he is usually a lock to be in contention.
Finally, as ESPN Stats and Info points out, this was the first year since 2002 he hasn't appeared in a major final:
So, yeah, it was a bad year for Federer, and that's still probably an understatement.
But you know what?
Even in what was a bad year, Federer gave us moments of magic that few are able to replicate—moments that remind us why he is still good for this sport.
He made it to the semifinals at the Australian Open and the quarterfinals at the French Open—a feat many label as noteworthy moments in their career.
He fought Rafael Nadal to three sets in a battle at Cincinnati a few weeks ago:
He beat both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray at the end of 2012—technically not this year, but close enough to suggest he's capable of doing it again.
Listen, Fed-Ex has nothing left to prove and no reason to keep playing if he doesn't want to. He is set financially for the rest of his life and with 17 major victories, he is firmly entrenched as one of the greatest players of all time.
If he is mentally checked out, he should walk away and not think twice about it. He will be missed but undoubtedly respected.
But he shouldn't worry about retiring on top, because nothing will ever tarnish what he has accomplished.
And if he wants to, he can still play with the best. Let's not forget he battled injuries and racket problems this season and is just over a year removed from a Wimbledon title and a 19-3 year at the majors.
He still provides fans with countless moments of sheer brilliance, at times reminding us of his crisp volleys, superb finishing and beautiful, world-class play and effort on the court.
Although those moments are fewer and farther between these days, they still happen—and they still continue to demonstrate why Roger Federer belongs on a tennis court:
Not necessarily for the wins or accomplishments anymore, but for the dynamic, beauty and class that he brings to the sport.
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