NEW YORK -- Two months ago, Wimbledon seemed to be Roger Federer's last best chance for his record 18th Grand Slam singles title.
Well, the old man got to the final, but couldn't quite close the deal, losing to Novak Djokovic in a spirited five-set match. One of the prevailing thoughts these days regarding the 33-year-old's major opportunities is that the US Open constituted his stiffest challenge, in terms of degree of difficulty. The windy conditions, the back-loaded schedule -- and Djokovic's success at this particular venue with four straight appearances in the final -- are all good reasons why it shouldn't happen here.
And yet ... it says here that Federer could do it in New York. The five-time US Open titlist comes in with the best form among his ATP World Tour peers and he looks and sounds confident.
"I think last year I was trying to convince myself I did have an opportunity," Federer said before the tournament, "because I feel like once you have had success and once you know how to win majors, or US Opens for that matter, yeah, can you always do it again. [But] the confidence was going away quickly, too, just because I was just not moving so well. I was scared to have another setback, and so it was just not as clear-cut and simple as it is this year.
"Then you come into this US Open just knowing -- well, you remember how it feels to win tournaments. You almost forget how to lose to a point and confidence rises. I'm looking forward to this tournament, because I really feel like I can play a great tournament. I hope I can show that on the court this year."
So far, so good.
Federer has breezed in his first two matches here. Friday evening he dispatched hard-serving Sam Groth by the count of 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Our Baseline Buzzers, ESPN.com tennis editor Matt Wilansky and senior writer Greg Garber, discuss the possibilities that await the Swiss champion,
Greg Garber: No one was more overjoyed when Rafael Nadal pulled out of the US Open with a damaged right wrist. Federer is playing well, but subtracting Rafa from the draw helps Federer as much as anyone. They've met 11 times in Grand Slam play and Rafa has a significant 9-2 edge. Additionally, Federer got Rafa's No. 2 seed, which protects him from Djokovic potentially until the final. The biggest obstacle? Grigor Dimitrov, who looms as a quarterfinal opponent.
Matt Wilansky: The bottom line is that Federer hasn't experienced this kind of good fortune heading into to a major in years. The question: Is his level of play good enough to capitalize on this opportunity and add to his major total? Federer made quick work of Groth, who holds the ATP record with a163 mph serve. Although it wasn't a perfect match from Fed, he did have 15 more winners than unforced errors. Nonetheless, through three matches, there's nothing to suggest Federer won't be around deep into the second week.