Turns out Novak Djokovic had a crystal ball after all.
The Serbian tennis star, ranked No. 3 in the world, raised many an eyebrow before Wimbledon in June when he suggested Roger Federer was no longer scaring the bejeezus out of every other player on tour. Federer's humiliation in the final of the French Open to Rafael Nadal, Djokovic suggested, had left the Swiss star vulnerable.
"Some things are changing. I think he's a little bit shaken with that loss and mentally he has been struggling in the last couple of months," Djokovic said. "It's normal to have ups and downs after four years of absolute dominance on the men's tour.
"New names are coming, fresh talented players who believe more they can win against him and I am one of them. . .Suddenly he is worried a little bit."
Some wondered how Djokovic, with only one Grand Slam on his resume, could dare suggest such things about Federer, who has 12. Moreover, it gave new credence to the notion that while Federer and Nadal are quite chummy, neither feels as warmly towards Djokovic.
Well, Djokovic has, over the past few weeks, turned out to be a soothsayer.
Federer was stunned to lose on grass to Nadal at Wimbledon, his confidence shaken despite the epic nature of their five-set classic. Losing to nobody Gilles Simon of France Wednesday night at the Rexall Centre, meanwhile, was a new form of embarrassment for the player who, for four incredible years, dominated the circut with 11 Grand Slam victories in 16 events.
Clearly, there's an edge that's not quite there any longer for Federer. He dismissed the notion earlier this week that most tennis champions peak at 25 - he's about to turn 27 - but now faces the possiblity of not being the No. 1 ranked singles entry at the Beijing Olympics.
He has lost 10 matches this year after losing eight all of last year, and is winless in the first three Grand Slams of the season. If Nadal wins the Rogers Cup this week, he would have the opportunity to take over the world's No. 1 ranking next week in Cincinnati after Federer has held the title for 234 consecutive weeks.
Something's missing from Federer's game - wealth and celebrity can do that to a fellow - and now that he's back to playing without a coach after parting with Tony Roche last year, its up to him to figure it out. He's two Grand Slam victories shy of Sampras' all-time record, a mark once thought easily achievable that now looks to be more of a challenge.