Roger Federer had a very busy summer. He won his seventh Wimbledon title and returned to #1, then he won the silver medal at the Olympics, and then he won his 21st Masters title in Cincinnati. The end of the summer provided disappointment with a shocking loss to Tomas Berdych in what can be considered an "off-match." Then, just over a week later, he helped the Swiss get back into the World Group in Davis Cup with a 3-1 win over the Netherlands.
Recently, the 17-time Grand Slam champion reported that he was feeling tired and needed a break. This has brought up the same old stories of his decline, which has become all too familiar in the last five years since his reign of complete dominance ended in 2007. Federer has four tournaments on his schedule for the rest of the year, being Shanghai, Basel, Paris, and the year-ending World Tour Finals.
Will he play all those tournaments after stating that he is exhausted and needs a holiday? After all, he is 31 years old now, and has played 69 matches this year, not to mention winning six titles and one Grand Slam.
The cherished #1 ranking is on the line for the rest of the season, and it looks likely that Roger will lose the top spot by the end of the year. He has 3000 points to defend while Novak Djokovic only has 560. Both players did not play Shanghai last year, so both could gain up to 1000 points should they win.
Djokovic currently has a more than 1000 point advantage in the 2012 race, and with plenty of points to gain, he'd have to play pretty badly to not get the #1 ranking. It is possible for Roger to retain it, but the stars would need to line up in his favour. If you're optimistic, you can point out that Roger only played 15 matches post Wimbledon, whereas Djokovic played 23 matches, including the long and physical US Open final against Andy Murray. Fatigue could become a factor, just as it was last year.
When trying to figure out what Federer's schedule might look like for the rest of the year, there are a few factors to take into account. Unlike last year and years prior, there will be no break between Paris and the World Tour Finals. This is unfortunate for Roger, because he won Paris last year, and considering his mental state right now, he may not be so keen on trying to defend his title there and only focus on the more important eight-man tournament in London.
If he does skip Paris, it may not be the worst thing as he will have a great chance to win Shanghai, which he should play. He will have had a three week break before the tournament starts, so he should be refreshed by then. In 2010, he made the final and played some great tennis, beating Isner, Soderling, and Djokovic back to back to back before suffering a bad defeat to Murray. He loves Shanghai and the fans love him - he won the Masters Cup there in 2006 and 2007.
It is certainly not impossible that Fed could sweep the end of the year tournaments again; he has only lost two matches after the US Open since 2010, and has won a total of six titles. He could very well win Shanghai, Basel, and the World Tour Finals, where he has won ten straight matches.
As always, the final few tournaments of the year are very interesting, especially this year with the #1 on the line. But there are currently 4 spots up for grabs in the World Tour Finals, and there will be two or three players that will want to make a big push for the 8th or 9th spot (in case of withdrawal as we saw last year). Janko Tipsarevic, Nicolas Almagro, John Isner, and Richard Gasquet hold the 9-13 spots, and they will try to sneak in with good end-of-year results. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, holding down the #8 spot, is defending titles in Metz and Vienna, as well as defending final results in Paris and London.
The end of the year should be very entertaining, and the race for #1 shall keep fans enticed until the season closes. Whatever happens with Roger, he has had a fantastic year, but knowing his record in the indoor season the past two years, he'll have a good chance of doing well.