Roger Federer says his recovery from two knee operations is taking longer than expected and he may miss the Australian Open.
- Federer said his priorities for 2021 priorities were Wimbledon, the US Open and the Tokyo Olympics
- The 39-year-old has had two rounds of surgery this year
- Federer has contested a record 21 consecutive Australian Opens since losing in the first round of qualifying in 1999
The 20-time grand slam champion said he hoped to return to Tennis in the New Year, but if his career was over a Swiss sporting award he received on the weekend would mark an “incredible ending for me”.
Federer, 39, has not played a competitive match since losing to Novak Djokovic in this season’s semi-finals at Melbourne Park.
He said the delayed start to the season’s first major, likely to be February 8 instead of January 18, may still not provide enough time for him to recover.
“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,” Federer said.
“It’s a race against time for the Australian Open. I’m curious to see whether it will start on February 8.
“Of course, it would help if I had a bit more time.”
Award would be ‘an incredible ending for me’
The six-time Australian Open champion said his priorities for 2021 were Wimbledon, the US Open and the Tokyo Olympic Games, where he would seek his first singles gold medal, the only major prize still eluding him.
At the weekend awards ceremony where he was named the best Swiss athlete since 1950, Federer said he hoped to make a comeback next year.
“I hope there is still something to see from me next year,” Federer said.
“But if that was it, that would have been an incredible ending for me at these sports awards.”
Federer has had two rounds of knee surgery this year, the second in the middle of the year. He also underwent surgery on his knee in 2016.
RafaelÂ Nadal congratulates Roger Federer after Federer’s victory in the men’s singles final at the Australian Open in 2017.(AP: Dita Alangkara)
On that occasion, he made an extraordinary comeback to win his fifth Australian Open crown in 2017 with an epic five-set final triumph over Rafael Nadal in his first official tournament appearance in six months.
Federer has contested a record 21 consecutive Australian Opens since losing in the first round of qualifying in 1999.
Tennis Australia is working closely with the Victorian and Federal governments in a bid to finalise quarantine requirements for the 2,500-odd players and their entourages.
Open director Craig Tiley said three weeks ago he hoped to confirm the new starting date within a fortnight.
But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews almost daily has said the process is complex and it is hoped an announcement confirming the 2021 Open will proceed will be made soon.
With COVID-19 under control in Victoria, organisers are hoping crowd capacity may be up to 50 per cent, from earlier expectations of 25 per cent.