Roger Federer has raised the sensational possibility that he has played his last professional tennis match, suggesting that there is no guarantee that he will return to court in 2021.
The Swiss Sport Awards speech set tongues wagging after Federer revealed that he was still not in full health and racing to be fit for the Australian Open and beyond.
The 20-time major winner hasn’t played since last year’s tournament at Melbourne Park due to a knee injury and subsequent surgery. He revealed in his acceptance speech on Monday (AEDT) his recovery was taking longer than hoped.
“I hope that in 2021 I will return to the courts. We will see,” Federer said after being crowned Switzerland’s greatest athlete of the past 70 years.
“But if my career had to end here, well it would be incredible to end it with this award.”
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“… I didn’t have any setbacks since the second operation. I’ve made constant progress over the last six months.
“I wish I was more ready but at the same time I’m happy where I stand. We had a plan and decided to take as much time as we need… I’m still not at 100 per cent.”
The Australian Open start date looks set to be pushed back to the second week of February but Federer admits he’ll still be cutting it fine, raising the possibility Australian fans may not get another chance to see the legend in action.
“It’s a race against time for the Australian Open, we will see,” he said.
“I’m curious to see whether it will start on February 8. Of course it would help if I had a bit more time.
“I would have hoped that I would be 100 per cent in October. But I am still not today. It will be tight for the Australian Open.”
At 39, Federer’s days on the tour are clearly numbered but many believe he’s determined to play on at least until Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics.