There were plenty of bizarre things that happened in the tennis world in 2013, but few are as strange as seeing the number to the left of Roger Federer's name at tournaments.
Now No. 6 in the world, Federer failed to make a Grand Slam final for the first time since 2002, getting bounced in the second round at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the U.S. Open, a surprise even for the aging wonder that is Roger Federer.
Now 32-years-old, Federer said that his early season schedule might have been a reason for his struggles late in the season, admitting he got into a bad place with his game and needed some time to turn that around.
"I played matches that I should never have played,'' said Federer.
"I should have left in Indian Wells (last March, with back pain) before the quarter-finals against (Rafael Nadal). This summer, I should not have tried to play on clay in Hamburg and in Gstaad.
"But things always look better in hindsight. I wasn't able to train as I wanted during my seven-week break following Indian Wells. I fell into a negative spiral.''
Federer now has one goal in mind, and that is making the eight-man Tour Finals in London, an event he has won six times in his career. The 17-time Grand Slam champion sits in the eighth spot currently for the Race to London, meaning he will have to keep playing well over these next two weeks if he hopes to make the elite field.
As for retirement, Federer has squashed those rumors for now, saying he plans to play tennis as long as he can be competitive.
"As long as my body and mind is ready to go to travel, I'm happy to be doing what I'm doing. I'm successful. I'll be playing for some time. That hasn't changed due to a tough six months.
Federer is off to a good start if his goal is to make it far in the Swiss Indoors that he is currently playing in, as he won his first round match on Monday 6-4, 6-2 over Adrian Mannarino.