Roger Federer, just before Wimbledon began in late June, recalled a conversation he had with Pete Sampras a decade earlier about retirement.
“He was asking me how much fuel I had left. Federer stated that this was in the midst of my 30th birthday. “He was thinking I was coming towards the end or something, just because it was, for him, normal that at 31, 33 — with the career that we’ve had, with all the sacrifice, in a way, you have to go through — it’s hard to keep on pushing for more years on tour.”
Federer, who turned 40 in August, went on to explain that he never thought he’d still be going at this age, especially after a series of knee operations. With Wednesday’s news that not only will he sit out the Australian Open in January but also expects to miss Wimbledon in 2022, the notion that Federer really might not have many — or perhaps even any — high-level performances left in him becomes all the more real.
To his fans, his sport and, most importantly to him.
“Even though the end is near I still want to play more big matches. That will not be easy, but I want to try,” Federer said in an interview published in the Tribune de Genève newspaper.
“Let’s be clear: My life is not going to fall apart if I don’t play another Grand Slam final. But that would be the ultimate dream — to get back there,” he said. “I want to see one last time what I’m capable of as a professional tennis player.”
This sentiment is shared by many others.
Novak Djokovic can be counted among them.
Roger is an icon of our sport and people around the globe love him. They love to watch him play, and they love seeing them around. He is very essential for our sport, both on the court and off it,” Djokovic said Wednesday in Turin Italy, where he competes at the ATP Tour Finals. “So, for the sake of our sport and at least another time, I hope we can see him play.”
Federer, who shares the men’s record of 20 major singles champions with Djokovic or Rafael Nadal has not competed since undergoing surgery for his right knee. It was the third time in as many years. The procedure to repair his meniscus cartilage and cartilage was performed shortly after Federer lost 6-3 to Hubert Hurkacz in quarterfinals at Wimbledon on July 7. Federer has won eight titles since then.
Federer was injured against an opponent that had never reached the third round at a Slam. Federer was only the third Grand Slam match to be beaten by a 6-0 opponent.
That’s why, in the interview published Wednesday, Federer said his fans “deserve better than the image left during the grass-court season,” even if he also figures, correctly, that the lasting memory of his play would be his triumphs and “how they felt watching me play,” rather than the stumble against Hurkacz.
He admitted that he needs patience as he recovers and rehabilitates. This distinction was made in 2016, when he missed half of a season due to a left knee operation. After returning, he won three of the four majors he had entered.
Federer hopes to be able jog in January, and to resume tennis work two to three months later.
“I’m sure that he doesn’t want to end his career this way. I think he’s going to definitely going to try to give it the last push,” said Djokovic, who eclipsed Federer’s record for most weeks atop the ATP rankings and Sampras’ mark for most years finished at No. 1. “For all that he has done and created for this sport he deserves to be a part of it and he deserves a proper farewell.”
People have been asking Sampras, or Federer calls him “Pistol”, for years about how long he plans on playing.
“We would all like that I could say goodbye in my way and on the tennis court,” Federer said, adding: “In absolute terms, there’s not a right moment to leave. Each athlete will find the right moment.
Source: Fox News