Melbourne: Roger Federer`s struggles in 2013 are unlikely to hasten his exit from the game and the Swiss master could hit back and win next year`s Australian Open, according to tennis great Rod Laver.
The 75-year-old Laver, the only player to win the calendar grand slam twice, suggested Federer`s lean period was more akin to a drop-off in form rather than a symptom of terminal decline.
"It`s a tough time. He`s 32 and not playing his best tennis by any means," Laver told reporters at Melbourne Park, where he launched his autobiography "Rod Laver - A memoir" on Thursday.
"It`s sometimes hard to analyse someone of that ability. But once in a while it happened to me where for no reason ... you`re just flat. What`s happened? What is it that made you play your best tennis?
"Maybe that`s going through a little bit of Roger`s (mind) because I saw him play at Wimbledon. The first match he played he was just perfect, great. And in the second, he loses a match which he could probably win with his eyes closed."
A year that began strongly with a run to the semi-final at the Australian Open turned ugly with a stunning second-round exit from Wimbledon at the hands of then-116th ranked Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky and a fourth-round elimination at the US Open.
Now ranked sixth in the world, Federer is no certainty to play in the season-ending ATP Tour Finals, an unthinkable prospect only a few months ago.
Although admitting to suffering a crisis of confidence at Flushing Meadows, Federer has vowed to play on and has talked about the prospect of playing in another Olympics at the 2016 Rio Games.
"I don`t foresee him saying he`s going to hang his rackets up because he`s had a bad year," said Laver, who won 11 grand slam titles and is regularly compared with Federer in debates about the game`s all-time greatest player.
"I think he`s going to look at this next January - and you might be surprised when you look at the champion of next year (at Melbourne Park).
"It might be Roger. He`s playing good tennis (but) sometimes it`s a matter of winning the right points. You don`t have to win them all, just the right ones.
"He seemed like he was getting into the right position of winning the right points, but not winning them."