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Is it ‘Open’ season for Federer?

  Roger Federer at the US Open in 2007. Can he turn back the clock?

Roger Federer at the US Open in 2007. Can he turn back the clock?

Well, they’re dropping like the proverbial flies at the US Open with a record 12 retirements in the first round.

It’s no surprise. The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center – site of the Open in Flushing Meadow-Corona Park, Queens – is one of the happiest places this side of The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. It’s a rich, beautiful experience with great food and shops – and, of course, great tennis. It’s also hotter than Hades. I wasn’t seated in Arthur Ashe Stadium for more than five minutes a couple of years ago when my knees started to burn. I was grateful to be able to retreat to the comfort of an air-conditioned box, courtesy of Heineken. The players don’t have that luxury, and, I’m sorry, I don’t care how much you’re being paid. Heat exhaustion is heat exhaustion.

Roger Federer cruised to the second round, enabling the Federinas to continue the drumbeat: Fed is back. He beat Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic back-to-back at the Southern & Western Open, a US Open tune-up. He’s got some new moves like coming in on an opponent’s second serve. He’s incredible at 34. He can go all the way and win. Yadda yadda.

I make no psychic claims. But I don’t think Fed will even make the finals. Indeed, he didn’t get past Marin Cilic, the eventual winner, last year. There’s no question that he’s an amazing player at any age but especially at 34. Still, he’s 34. His best chance for winning another Slam was Wimbledon last year against Nole when he took him to five sets. This year, it wasn’t even close, going down to Nole in four. And that was on grass, the fastest service, in a cooler climate.

Now we’re on the slower hard courts in New York in the dog days of summer. And unlike the Southern & Western Open, Feddy’s going to have to go 3 out of 5 every match. Can he get past Andy, let’s say, and then Nole or maybe Rafa for the crown?

I don’t see him doing it.