What if one has taken more Grand Slams than anyone else in the history of the game? What if one has made more than $70 million in prize money and tens of millions more in endorsements? What then dominates the ultimate champion's dreams?
The answer is simple for Roger Federer, winner of 16 Grand Slams and six times Wimbledon champion. "I am dreaming of the title. There's no denying that," he said yesterday as he addressed the press in what was once his kingdom.
He has, though, been the victim of a bloodless coup in recent years. There may not have been physical pain but there has been anguish. King Federer has had to bow to such commoners as Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on grass in the past two Wimbledons.
His rivalry with Rafael Nadal has been superseded by the Spaniard's duel with Novak Djokovic. They have contested the past four Grand Slam finals and won the past nine Grand Slams, with Djokovic taking five.
The Swiss monarch has been consigned to history but he has no doubt he has a future. He was yesterday at his languidly confident best. He has the opportunity to equal Pete Sampras's record of seven Wimbledon singles titles.
"It's up to me to make that difference now and take it to the next step," he said of the disappointment of losing in the quarter-finals of 2010 and 2011. "Then, once hopefully I am there, I can reach for the title. A seventh would be amazing," he said with a quiet relish.
Of his preparations, he added: "I don't feel like I have to work on anything specific because I feel everything is working in my game."
He will have to be at his best as he approaches the age of 31 in August. Federer has met Nadal in three finals in SW19, losing the last in 2009. The dip in his game is minimal, if it exists at all. However, it is inarguable that Nadal and Djokovic have pulled away from him. It is likely, too, that Federer knows this even as he strains to change it.
He would relish the chance to change this recent history with a tilt at Nadal in the final. But he most likely will have to beat Djokovic to reach that showdown.
The Spaniard does not entertain thoughts about anything beyond beginning the tournament on Tuesday with a match against Thomaz Belluci of Brazil.
"'Thinking about winning another title here in Wimbledon is arrogant and crazy. That's something I cannot think about, no?" Nadal said yesterday.
"I can just think about the practice of tomorrow, to keep preparing my game, to arrive on Tuesday with the right conditions, being competitive to try to win the first match."
He was similarly cautious when assessing the rivalry with Djokovic in comparison to that with Federer. However, the very fact he was being asked that question suggests there is a belief that the world has moved on from the classic Federer-Nadal collisions of old.
Federer may defy age and doubters. It is what champions do, but increasingly he is being seen as a threat rather than a likely winner. Similarly, Andy Murray, who has a difficult draw that starts with Nikolay Davydenko and could include an early meeting with the very dangerous Milos Raonic, needs a breakthrough after losing in recent semi-finals to Nadal and Djokovic.
There are others who could make an impact but it strains credibility to nominate Tsonga, Berdych or Juan Martin Del Potro as a winner of the championship.
Nadal, ever astute, knows the chasing pack may be working harder, that Federer may not be slipping, but that everyone in tennis has to be better on a daily basis just to stand still in relation to everyone else.
"If you are not able to improve your level of tennis you are dead, no, in this very competitive world of tennis," he said.
In this war of attrition, it is likely that it will be Nadal and Djokovic who fight for the title in two weeks' time. Federer may have a dream. The reality of the recent past is that a Spaniard or a Serb wins the prize.
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