The numbers are not the sort that Roger Federer likes to see beside his name.
One of them - his age, 32 - he cannot control.
The other - his ranking, No. 7 - he insists he can.
''People are going to say what they like,'' Federer said Saturday, two days before his first-round match at the U.S. Open. ''Important is that I concentrate on my game and that the passion is there, that I work the right way, that I'm prepared, and that I feel like I can win a tournament.''
The five-time U.S. Open champion is seeded seventh, the biggest number next to his name at a Grand Slam tournament since 2003, the year he started on his record-setting run of 17 majors.
In June, Federer exited Wimbledon in the second round, the earliest he'd been dismissed from a major tournament since the 2003 French Open. Starting with that loss, his season has included a steady diet of defeats that would have once been considered freakish and a withdrawal from a tournament t...