Kolkata: Do we see Roger Federer back in Wimbledon next year? The question stares at the Swiss master like never before - and the omens were not good when he quickly packed his bags after the humiliation at the hands of 14th-seeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, someone who has not gone beyond third round of any major in his career.
The social media is agog with how Federer has perhaps brought this upon himself by deciding to delay the inevitable, despite his frequent explanation of ‘listening to his body’ when it came to picking and choosing tournaments. The kind of goodwill that this once-in-a-generation player enjoys that even after he pulled out after winning the third round match at French Open in June, there was no vocal criticism of him disrespecting the clay court slam.
One lived in hope that he would be in decent shape in time for the Wimbledon, if not for a ninth singles crown but at least a Federer-esque last hurrah. He did try his best, despite being woefully short of competitive tennis and coming into his favourite slam with just eight matches under his belt this season.
There was an element of luck involved in his progress till the quarters, and ifs and buts will continue to swirl if Adrian Mannarino, who was leading by 2-1 sets, had not slipped to hurt his knee and was forced to concede the first round match. It was construed to be a customary rustiness as next three rounds went in a breeze till the humiliation came on Wednesday evening.
The next few weeks will be crucial for Federer and his entourage for he has been named in the Switzerland contingent for Tokyo Olympics. He had said before that his decision to play in Tokyo depends on how he plays at the Wimbledon - and hence one wouldn’t be surprised if he decides to skip the Games altogether.
Come August 8, the day the Summer Games ends, Federer turns 40 - which means this is the last slam he has played in his 30s. The US Open, not exactly his favourite surface, is still some way off in August.
“I don’t know if we will ever see the great man again here,” former champion Boris Becker said, voicing the fears of thousands of fans who had flocked to the All England Club to see him and millions more watching on TV.
Like all things, the Federer roadshow is certainly on its last legs. As for when, we will have to give the supreme entertainer some time to decide.