Probably not the way Roger Federer would like to be ranked at the age of 41. Yet as one of the greatest tennis players of all time officially turns the page another year, he does so without an ATP ranking for the first time in 25 years. years. How long he remains inactive, the term given to him by the ATP is not known.
Federer hasn’t played since losing in straight sets in the 2021 Wimbledon quarter-final to Hubert Hurcakz and then undergoing third knee surgery. He is not expected to return for the next US Open, missing the Grand Slam, which he won five times in a row between 2004 and 2008, for the third consecutive year.
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So what awaits Federer in his 42nd year and when will he be back on the tennis court?
For now, the Laver Cup is circled as Federers’ return date.
The team exhibition event, which Federer helped create, will be played this year at the O2 Arena in London from September 23-25. Federer is signed up to play for the European team along with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. It will be the first time the Big Four have played the same competition since the 2019 Australian Open.
Federer is next due to play the Swiss Indoors in his hometown of Basel on October 22. It may be his only competitive event on the ATP Tour of the season.
If it goes as planned, it will be time to look ahead to 2023 and a possible farewell tour.
To think that next year will be anything other than the Feders’ chance to say goodbye is probably optimistic. At Wimbledon, where he appeared for the Center Court centenary celebrations, Federer spoke of his hope to return once more. If that time is next summer, barring an incredible career revival – it’s hard to imagine at the moment he will return in 2024.
It would be appropriate for him to play all four Grand Slams one last time, but his body might say otherwise.
As for Federers’ chances of winning another major to add to his 20, they were recently described as highly unlikely by former Serena Williams coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Federer may have been the longtime leader of the Grand Slam rankings, but he seems destined to end his career behind Nadal (currently 22) and Djokovic (21). Federer’s last Grand Slam victory was the 2018 Australian Open. Since then he has made one final (Wimbledon 2019) and two semi-finals (French Open 2019 and Australian Open 2020).
There is hope for No. 21, of course. Would Federer still be ‘rockinggggggg’ in rehab if there wasn’t? His agent Tony Godsick, who said Federer played on “one leg” at Wimbledon in 2021, spoke of the potential for a successful comeback.
I know Roger well enough to know that he still has the flame burning to compete, Godsick recently posted on Instagram. His real motivation is to come back to compete on the ATP Tour and try to kind of end his career, the way he wants to end it, healthy and successful and on his terms.”
What exactly are Federer’s terms? It’s remarkable that at the age of 41, the “R” word is barely mentioned and there’s still no talk of the curtain coming down. But even if Federer is in the best shape of his career next year, he will still be 20 years older than some of those currently near the top of the game. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic may have proven that tennis at the level Elite isn’t exclusively a game for young people, but there’s a reason Ken Rosewall’s record of being the oldest Grand Slam winner at 37 since 1972 still stands.
Obviously, there remains a huge desire to see Federer back on the pitch. He remains universally beloved like few other sports stars of this century. His style may have changed over the years, but his graceful movement, racquet rustle and sweeping backhand remain as alluring as ever.
Novak has been a tougher opponent Wilander on Nadal calling Federer his biggest rival
At Wimbledon, his incredible impact on the game was evident not only in the standing ovation he received on center court, but also in the words of his greatest rivals.
Personally, I miss Roger in the tennis tour and he misses tennis of course, the tournaments, the fans, everyone, Nadal said.
I think Roger Federer is important in every tournament. Not just Wimbledon. He is a player we miss in all tennis events, no doubt.
Djokovic expressed similar sentiments.
I told him that he was loved by many people and made very welcome, and that he had to come back so we could play at least one more time as he said himself.
Of course, he was one of my biggest rivals in my career and it’s weird not seeing him in tournaments.
For those hoping Federer will hit a high again, there have been some positive words to cling to. Earlier this year he described himself as a racehorse scratching his stall and wanting to race. In the summer, I hope to be able to be operational, he added. I can’t wait to go home in the evening after the hard day of training and be completely exhausted.”
Hearing Federer speak with such positivity about rehab is encouraging. Even though it has been a long process, only 14 matches played in the last 18 months and a shorter than expected comeback last year, Federer still seems keen to return. Maybe he wants to say goodbye, maybe he really believes he can win again. Whatever the motivation, tennis is always a better place when Federer is around.
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