Roger Federer’s knee injury bombshell has many believing the end is very near for the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
Federer has long dismissed retirement claims with the 38-year-old exceeding even his own expectations.
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Whether it’s because of the competition from Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic breathing down his neck as they chase his Grand Slam record, Federer has lasted longer than even he predicted.
He admitted in November that he believed he would retire as a 35 or 36-year-old but said “my retirement will depend on my health”.
Federer claimed the last of his Grand Slam titles in 2018 and even made the 2019 Wimbledon final, where he lost a classic to Djokovic.
But his body has started to slow down as the next generation, led by Dominic Thiem, who can overtake Federer as World No. 3 with a quarterfinal win in the Rio Open.
Now, needing a second surgery for a knee injury, it looks like his ageless body is finally starting to show its age.
Roger Federer’s longevity is stuff of legend.Source:AP
Federer last had knee surgery on his left knee in 2016 and took sixth months off and has had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee this time around.
After the last injury, he came back to win the 2017 and 2018 Australian Open as well as the 2017 Wimbledon title.
Rumours circulated he was going to withdraw from his Australian Open semi-final through a groin injury that limited him against Djokovic in the semi-final.
Federer was far from his best and said, “Today was horrible, to go through what I did” after the straight sets defeat, despite getting plenty of love, including from his opponent.
He also fell in five sets during the US Open quarters to Grigor Dimitrov after suffering back and neck pain.
The ailments are starting to ramp up but with four months before a return for the grass court season, Federer is hopeful he will have a future in the sport.
He posted on social media Thursday that his knee had been an issue “for a little while”.
“I hoped it would go away,” he said.
“After the procedure, the doctors confirmed that it was the right thing to have done and are very confident of a full recovery.”
Now Federer, who for years has faced questions about how much longer he’ll compete, will miss upcoming hard-court tournaments in Dubai, Indian Wells, and Miami, along with what was supposed to be a rescheduled exhibition match in Bogota, Colombia, that was cancelled in November because of rioting there.
He also is going to sit out Roland Garros, the next Grand Slam tournament, which begins May 24, the fourth time in the past five years Federer is absent from the clay-court major he won in 2009, completing a career Grand Slam.
There is also the belief that he may need a second surgery according to Swiss newspaper Aargauer Zeitung which may have Federer looking at retirement.
Federer is still playing damn good tennis.Source:AFP
Kevin Mitchell of The Guardian said the announcement pointed to a bleak future for Federer fans.
“His worldwide audience went into paroxysms of grief, registering more than 10,000 “likes” in half an hour, although there was not much to like,” Mitchell wrote.
“Their concern — and that of the entire industry — is that, at 38, Federer is hurrying towards the last chapter of his remarkable story.
“While he has had injuries in the past — although few until he passed 35, certainly not as many as his most of his contemporaries — the accumulation of trouble in key areas of his body does not encourage confidence in his medium-to long-term future.”
Former World No. 1 and current Nadal coach Carlos Moya shocked when he retired 18 months after reaching the top of the world rankings.
He told Spanish publication Las Provincias that Federer was clearly nearing the end but still able to create some incredible moments.
“It is clear that with each passing day, they have one less,” he said.
“Federer made semi-finals in Australia and if he had won the first set against Djokovic, anything could have happened.
“It is the law of life, as tennis lovers you have to enjoy them.”
Speaking to the New York Times, Federer’s former coach Paul Annacone calmed concerns he wouldn’t make it back.
“The big challenge in my experience is the older you get, the harder it is to come back from anything,” Annacone said.
“But these all-time greats are aberrations, not the rule, so you risk your own peril to predict what’s going to happen, pro or con. In 2010, when I started with him, people were wondering when he was going to retire.”
Djokovic consoles Federer after the brutal Australian Open semi-final.Source:AFP
Thiem, who is set to pounce on Federer’s World No. 3 ranking, told Break Point Brasil he was looking forward to Federer’s return.
“Me and everybody else love to watch him, love when he’s around in the ATP Tour,” Thiem said. “It is sad that he is out until Wimbledon, but on the other hand if he needs the surgery, if he is ready for grass season, it’s good if he is back playing in great shape.”
Speaking to the BBC’s Simon Parker, Federer confirmed he had been thinking about what’s next, admitting he has some plans.
“There’s a lot of things that I can’t do as well,” he said. “That’s also one of the big beauties of what’s coming after. Actually, I’ll have the time to learn a new instrument, maybe another language, or maybe go visit some places I’ve never been to and learn from that.
“I’m a good tennis player doesn’t mean I’m good at everything else. And I think it’s also quite exciting to start somewhere from scratch again.
“By far not a good chef or good cook by any stretch, so I’ll look to learn that as well. That can be done altogether with my children because I know they love their cooking.”
Let’s hope we can squeeze another Grand Slam or Olympic gold out before he becomes the well-Fed Express.
— with AP
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