Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The 2006 ATP season is already two months old, but Swiss stud Roger Federer has appeared in only two events thus far.
The world No. 1 star has yet to lose this year, going 12-0 in a pair of hardcourt events, including an Australian Open title last month. I don't want to say that the Fed is strong on hardcourts, but he currently owns an insane 52-match winning streak on the surface.
Federer opened his campaign with a title in Doha the first week of January, and then ran the table in Melbourne to corral his second Aussie Open title in three years. He currently holds three of the four Grand Slam championships, winning all three in succession, and has corralled seven of the last 11 majors, dating back to Wimbledon 2003. His Grand Slam record since Wimbledon 2004 is an eye-popping 45-2.
Federer's off to a 12-0 start this year, with two titles coming in as many events.
The sublime Swiss is halfway to Pete Sampras' record 14 Grand Slam titles and he's still only 24 years old. Sampras also held seven majors at the age of 24.
FYI, Federer beat Sampras in five sets in their only-ever meeting at Wimbledon in 2001. Sure, Sampras was perhaps past his prime, but let's keep in mind that Federer was not yet FEDERER at that point.
Federer isn't currently nursing an injury, he's simply cutting back his schedule because he's, quite frankly, Federer. He decided against playing Davis Cup for Switzerland earlier this month, and his Swiss compatriots wound up losing to visiting Australia 3-2 in a first-round matchup in Geneva. In all fairness to the Fed, the Aussies also showed up without their top star, former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt. Federer also pulled out of Rotterdam this week, citing an "ankle injury," but sources tell me the two-time year-end No. 1 will be ready to go next week in Dubai, where he's won 15 straight matches and is the three-time defending champ in the UAE.
Federer, who has demonstrated that he could be well on his way to becoming the most accomplished player in the history of the sport, already owns 35 career titles, including wins in 26 of his last 27 finals, and has amassed more than $21 million just in prize money. He's also secured two Masters Cup titles and eight Masters Series shields in his rocketing career.
FYI, Federer's also about halfway to Pete's record career earnings tally of just over $43 million.
In late May/early June, Federer will try to complete the "Roger Slam" by winning a fourth straight major, at the French Open. Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam trophy that has eluded the maestro, as was the case for the great Sampras. But, unlike Pete, Federer actually excels on red clay and reached the semifinals in Paris last year, only to lose to a red-hot dirtballer in Rafael Nadal. The majestic Federer has won 47 of his last 48 matches and captured seven of his eight events since losing to the excitable Nadal at RG.
By the way, Federer (7,025) may have also decided to take some time off since his lead in the ATP rankings is by a whopping 2,410 points. His closest competitor is the fiery Nadal (4,615).
I'm gonna make a crazy prediction and say that Federer wins the title next week in Dubai. Call it a hunch.