I think as long as he is healthy, and still loves the game as he does now, and doesn't have family issues, and is still making the effort to play well at the top as he obviously is now, I don't see any reason why he can't play 4 or 5 more years as he said, and still be near the top.
As of now, I don't see players coming up that can threaten him, perhaps Raonic. I think Mr. Nadal is likely to retire within 2 or 3 years. Djokovic might still be playing and Murray.
This year, he is as fit and committed as ever. He's rolled back the years, capturing the most titles (4
, including 2 Masters 1000) before Roland Garros since 2006, and in many key parts of his game he is amazingly producing better tennis than in 2006 (His service is at its best, his backhand improved). He is not quite as good on his return game and he is not working for break opportunities as much, as it seems in 2012 he has opted to improve and hold his service (93% prior to rome) games, more than put in the effort to break (2006 avg. 9/match , 2012 avg. 7/match).
To back up his superb start in terms of a great year, I think he needs to win at least 1 major, and possibly 2. (Wimbledon + US Open). If he keeps playing as he has, it's certainly possible. But winning a major is not easy, the draw can be a factor, and upsets can happen if a player gets hot (ala Tsonga). Even if he doesn't win a major, and can win 3 or 4 other titles, it will still be a very good year, as he turns 31.
According to his schedule, here is how I optimistically
see (from his point of view) the rest of the year at this time, assuming his level is about the same as it has been:
Legend: High Probability
, Small Chance Almost No Chance
CLAY: 05/28 - 06/10 (0 Titles)
- Semifinal or Final (a win would surprise me)
GRASS: 06/11 - 08/05: (2 Titles)
- (should be his 75th title
if he plays - a tough Roland Garros to the final might cause him to skip Halle)
Olympics at Wimbledon
I think a reasonable estimate is he can win 1 of these 2 at Wimbledon, and it depends on the draw. If he can get a top server that is not too high in the rankings early (like Karlovic or Raonic) and beat them, he has a great chance to win. In the years he has not done well at Wimbledon, he didn't face a top server until later in the tournament where they were higher ranked, and was beaten (Berdych, Tsonga). 76th title
from one of these at Wimbledon.
HARD (OUTDOOR) 08/06 - 10/14: (2 Titles)
Rogers Cup - Canada, Toronto
- If he goes deep at the Olympics (win/final) he may choose to skip Toronto. But if he doesn't skip, he has won this tournament in Toronto twice (2004, 2006) and lost to Andy Murray in the 2010 Final. So, I won't forecast this as a title for him because he may not play, but if he does, it's certainly possible.
Western & Southern - Cincinnati
- He's a 4 time winner of this event (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010).
I'll predict he takes his 77th title
at one of the above 2 hard court events - probably in Cincinnati.
- If the court plays faster than last year, I think Mr. Federer will reverse the result of the past 2 years and has a great chance of winning. But some depends on the draw, some depends on luck, and it's a bit far out to know how the top contenders are playing at that time. But this is based on how they are playing recently. I'll go out on a limb and give him his 78th title
here, but it's clearly not in the bag.
- He's only played once here in 2010, beating Djokovic in the semis, but losing to Murray in the Final. If he plays, he has a good chance, but he may play in the Davis Cup Group Playoffs, and he may choose to take time off before the Indoor Season similar to last year.
HARD (INDOORS) 10/22 - 11/12: (1 Title)
Swiss Indoors Basel
- Has to be the heavy favorite to take his home tournament for the 6th time. 79th Title
can come here.
BNP Paribas Masters - Paris-Bercy
- Federer may choose to skip this or strategically exit as the questionable scheduling has this event finishing just as the World Tour Finals begin.
World Tour Finals - London
- He's won the event a record 6 times, not much more to prove, but he might outlast the others because of his good scheduling. It would cap off a tremendous season to win his 3rd straight and 7th WTF, and 10th title of the year for his 80th Title
of his career here, but I think for some reason he won't. He's won all of his titles here in pairs. 2010-11, 2006-7, 2003-4. But it could happen.
So overall, as of now, I think he could reasonably take up to 5 more titles giving him 9 titles
for the year, but depending how well he does in some of the bigger tournaments (like Roland Garros, Wimbledon, Olympics, US Open), he may skip one or two that I've pegged him to take. For example, Halle could be skipped. Also, the US Open is no lock for a win. So I could see him with 7 titles for the year giving him 77 career titles
, and maybe a maximum of 10 (if he takes the WTF), giving him 80 career titles
. Not too shabby for a 31 year old man. And if he gets close to 80 this year, he himself has given himself 4-5 years more to play, meaning he would have to average 4-5 titles/year to reach 100. Those don't have to be majors. I think all depends on how much he is still enjoying playing and if he can remain competitive among the top 5 players.