Roger Federer's 2011 season will be most remembered for what he didn't do: win a major. It was the first time since 2002 that Federer wasn't victorious in at least one Grand Slam and, to some, it suggested that the decline of the 30-year-old Swiss superstar would be a hasty one. As he showed this weekend in Paris, and has demonstrated for the past two years while similar whispers have dogged him, Federer's career obituary can't be started yet.
Federer defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Sunday 6-1, 7-6 to win the BNP Paribas Masters. He didn't drop a set in the event. The victory was his 18th in a Masters 1000 event, his 69th tournament win overall and his 12th-straight victory headed into next week's year-end ATP World Tour Finals.
While his year will be defined by the lack of Slam and his ranking dropping from No. 2 to No. 4, Federer's year was hardly a bust. He was the only man to defeat Novak Djokovic in a Grand Slam, he came within within one ridiculous shot of beating Djokovic in another and he put up a great challenge to Rafael Nadal in the French Open final. Wins are what matter, so by that barometer, Federer's season wasn't successful. But the way he lost, and the way he's subsequently bounced back, shows that there's still plenty of good tennis left in the aging superstar who hasn't quite made it over the hill.