The 2022 Australian Open is out of the question for Roger Federer as he continues to work to come back from his latest knee surgery, and the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion now says he “would be extremely surprised if I could play Wimbledon.”
Still, the 40-year-old Swiss great said he believes he is capable of the “ultimate dream” of playing in another Slam final. Presently tied with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam singles titles in men’s tennis, Federer seemed realistic yet determined to chart the closing arc of a remarkable career.
“My ambition is to see what I’m capable of one last time,” he said. “I also wish I could say goodbye in my own way and on a tennis court. That’s why I give my all in my rehabilitation. Then, let’s be clear, my life is not going to collapse if I don’t play a Grand Slam final again. But it would be the ultimate dream to go back. And, in fact, I still believe in it. I believe in these kinds of miracles.”
'Glimmer of hope'
Federer was last seen playing in Wimbledon - which he has won eight times - losing a quarterfinal to Hubert Hurkacz on July 7. After withdrawing from the U.S. Open in mid-August, Federer said knee surgery was the “only glimmer of hope” he had of being able to compete at the level he wants. Federer has had four procedures on his knees over the past few years and said in August that he had hurt himself at Wimbledon.
Having to miss January’s Australian Open is “no surprise,” Federer told the Tribune de Genve. “We knew before the operation that this type would require a months-long break.” Now he is focused again on rehab and said he had passed his “first big checkup” with doctors.
“I will be able to resume running quietly in January and resume sessions on the court with complex support in March or April. Today, I therefore estimate my return to competition in the summer of 2022. I would be extremely surprised if I could play Wimbledon.”
That also seems to rule out the French Open, which is scheduled to begin in late May, about a month before Wimbledon. He didn’t specifically address it, but he didn’t write off the U.S. Open, which he has won five times and which is scheduled to begin in late August. He made it clear, though, that he is playing a long game as he recovers.
“This summer it was decided to suture the lesion to my meniscus, which involves some downtime. The doctors therefore took the opportunity to also treat my cartilage,” he said. “The combination of these two interventions requires patience and prudence.”
There’s also uncertainty, as he told reporters in March.
“There [are] question marks all over,” Federer said. “When you come back from injury . . . the biggest challenge is to trust yourself 100% again in your capabilities of your body.”
Grand Slam total
At the time, he was philosophical about the possibility that Djokovic or Nadal or both would surpass his Grand Slam total.
“Sure, you like to keep every record, but all the records are there to be broken,” Federer said. “[Nadal and Djokovic] are unreal; we all know that. And I hope they keep on going. I hope they can do everything they possibly want and that they look back with no regrets.”
Federer sounded at the time as if he was speaking of himself as well.
“I just feel like the story’s not over yet,” he said.