As a Roger Federer fan, like millions of others, one would like to wish the legend a terrific new year. If wishes were horses, then the fan in me would ride those and see to it that he wins all four grand slams, becomes the year end number one and hands his nemesis Rafael Nadal a drubbing in the French Open final.
On a more serious note, here is a more realistic wish list of a Federer fan for the year 2019:
#1 Grand Slam Title No. 21
After a remarkable resurgence in 2017, where he won his long awaited 18th Grand slam title at the Australian Open and a record-breaking eighth Wimbledon title, the just-concluded 2018 season was more of a mixed bag for Roger Federer.
The highlight of the season for him came at the very beginning when he won his record-extending 20th Grand slam singles title at the Australian open. However, he struggled to achieve the highs of the season before .
Even then, he managed to become the oldest number 1 ranked player, albeit for a very brief period, and ended the year ranked world number three. With the re-emergence of Novak Djokovic, a fit again Rafael Nadal back on court and the steady rise of some next-gen players like Alexander Zverev, Borna Coric and Karen Khachanov, winning another grand slam seems a difficult proposition, but it is not beyond him. His best chance of doing so could be either at the Australian Open or at Wimbledon.
#2 Title No. 100
Federer’s patchy mid and end-season form meant that his quest for a remarkable hundredth singles title remained elusive. But he is just one title away and there is little doubt it will come this year. It is no longer a matter of if, but when.
However, it will be wonderful if he can do so at the first grand slam of the year. But if not at the Australian Open, one hopes that it will come either at either Indian Wells or Miami.
#3 French Open Appearance after a gap of 3 years and a Clay Court title
2016 French Open was the first time in the 21st century that Federer did not play the main draw of a grand slam singles event. Unfortunately for his fans, he stayed away from the red clay for the next two years as well, ostensibly to preserve himself for his favorite grand slam, Wimbledon.
However, it must be noted that he is a terrific clay court player too. If his era had not coincided with that of the greatest clay court player ever, he could have added many more titles to his only triumph at Paris, which his four runner-up finishes to Nadal testify.
So, if he decides to play the French Open this year, it will not at all be a shock if he makes a deep run. Though winning the French Open again is beyond the wildest dreams of his biggest fans, he is certainly capable of winning a clay court title elsewhere if he decides to play a tournament a rung below the Masters 1000, so that he can avoid Nadal.
However, he could take a shot at the Madrid Masters, which is Nadal’s least successful clay court Masters event. The high altitude and slightly faster clay surface may provide Federer with a rare chance to win a clay Masters. It could also present him the best chance to beat Nadal on clay.
#4 “PLEASE DO NOT RETIRE”
Finally, the most dreaded proposition for a long-term Federer fan is the thought of the GOAT retiring someday. Yes, he will of course have to retire someday. But let that day not come this year, please.
If that means he has to skip even more tournaments this year, so be it. But as one of his biggest fans, this is what I would say, “Please remain healthy and motivated. And please do not hang up your boots."
Continue for at least one year, play the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and after that…well, "please do not retire.”