It has been more than 45 months since Roger Federer last held aloft a major trophy, and sceptics generally scoff at the idea of him winning another given his advancing years and, of course, Novak Djokovic's relentless domination.
The Swiss will celebrate his 35th birthday this August and he has won just one final at the grand slam tournaments since celebrating his 30th birthday: the 2012 Wimbledon. That means he has won a total of one of the past 24 majors.
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Yet his fans have not given up hope of an 18th grand slam title and Federer himself is confident he can add to his record tally, his age and the recent arthroscopic knee surgery notwithstanding.
“I feel ready to win a major again,” Federer said in an interview with Spanish daily Marca last week. “I went close to winning Wimbledon and at the US Open [in 2015]. At the Australian Open, too.
“Honestly, I think I believe I played at a great level in the last two seasons. I moved perfectly on the court.”
Perfectly? His critics will pick on that word and point to those first two sets at the Australian Open when Djokovic annihilated him.
Others will use them to mock Federer and call him conceited, arrogant, pompous, delusional and what not.
But putting all that hate aside, a look at his results does suggest Federer has been playing a lot better over the past 15 months than he has at any time this decade.
He has reached the final at two of his last three majors and a semi-final at the other. He has a 17-3 record at the majors during this period, with all three defeats coming against Djokovic.
So Federer has clearly been the second best player in the world over the past 15 months and, as Rafael Nadal said in Monte Carlo this month, Djokovic cannot go on winning for eternity. There will be a blip and Federer wants to be ready when that moment comes.
“The important thing for me is not to be injured when summer arrives,” Federer, who hurt his knee while walking with his twin daughters in a Melbourne park, told Marca. “From the French Open [in May] until September, I would like to feel well because there is much at stake, many ranking points, dreams to realise and titles to win.”
With “much at stake”, Federer is trying to make sure he draws up the best possible schedule for himself.
He has played only three tournaments this year – Brisbane and the Australian Open in January and then the Monte Carlo Masters this month, after missing Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells as he recuperated from surgery.
He had picked Miami for his comeback, but had to return home without playing a match because of gastroenteritis.
He is not scheduled to play another tournament before the French Open, but he could make an appearance at either the Rome or Madrid Masters before heading to Roland Garros.
“I do not want to play many tournaments, but enough to feel competitive,” Federer said. “After the surgery my mind feels like I have to arrive in full form at Roland Garros.
“I have to be able to play seven matches in two weeks, in best of five sets. Paris and Wimbledon are the two closest targets. Rio is very far away.”
Success in Paris must seem like a distant dream as Federer has won just once in 17 visits to Roland Garros, but he still has hopes.
“I do not think I have zero chances to lift the trophy at Roland Garros,” he said.
“I think if the draw is favourable, if I play well, I will have my chances.”
His stats on clay probably do not support that claim. Only 11 of his 88 career titles have come on clay and only two (Madrid in 2012, and Istanbul in 2015) have come in the seven years since his 2009 French Open triumph.
Wimbledon, then, remains his best shot.
But as Robin Soderling, the man he beat in the 2009 French Open final, said last week, “As long as Roger and Rafa [Nadal] are playing, they can still win any title.”
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