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Could Federer Be Headed Back To No. 1?

New York, U.S.A.

Federer© Getty ImagesRoger Federer has won three titles in eight finals in 2014.

Don't look now, but suddenly Roger Federer is making a charge towards returning to World No. 1.

As improbable as that seemed at the start of the season, should Federer win the US Open, and Novak Djokovic not progress beyond the semi-finals, the Swiss would move into first place in the Emirates ATP Race To London. The Race, which measures a player's performance in 2014 only, is different to the world rankings, officially known as the Emirates ATP Rankings, which counts players' best results over the past 52 weeks.

However, the Race and Rankings ultimately mirror each other at the end of the season. So should Federer rise to first place in the Race after Flushing Meadows, he would have a strong chance of finishing year-end World No. 1 for a sixth time after November's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

What a difference a year makes! At the same time last season, Federer was clawing to remain in the Top 10 and to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The Swiss last weekend clinched a record 13th consecutive appearance at the season finale by winning a sixth title at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati - his fourth straight final appearance dating back to Halle. He is the first player aged 30 or over to do so since Ivan Lendl in 1981.

This season the 33 year old has reinvented his game following a self-proclaimed “lost year” in 2013. He is proving that greatness is not always measured linearly. It is how the peaks and valleys are navigated that separates the elite.

The Basel native is 49-9 this year, already surpassing his wins total of 45 in 2013. His one title (Halle) in three finals contrasts with his trio of trophies (Dubai, Halle and Cincinnati) in eight finals this season. In addition, Federer had earned just one Top 10 victory at this point last year. He has claimed 12 scalps already in 2014.

“It feels great,” said Federer following his triumph on Sunday. “I've been beating Top 10 [players] along the way and just enjoying myself out on court, playing some positive tennis, so it’s really encouraging.”

In defeating Andy Murray, Milos Raonic and David Ferrer in Cincinnati, the Basel native also became the oldest to earn three straight Top 10 wins since Andre Agassi in 2004. Agassi won in Cincinnati as well with consecutive victories over World No. 4 Carlos Moya, No. 2 Andy Roddick and No. 10 Lleyton Hewitt in the final.

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