20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer is a major doubt for the 2021 Australian Open, admitting his rehabilitation has taken longer than expected and he is still not at 100%.
Speaking at an awards ceremony in Switzerland in which the 39-year-old was honoured with a distinctive prize for being the Best Swiss Male Athlete of the last 70 years, he said, “I wish I was more ready but at the same time I’m happy where I stand. We had a plan and decided to take as much time as we need. I’m still not at 100 per cent.”
Roger Federer elected the 'Best Men's Athlete of the last 70 years' in Switzerland. pic.twitter.com/kxoZ7Cyqah
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) December 13, 2020
Federer hasn’t played in nearly 12 months, with his last match coming at this year’s Australian Open semifinal where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
He has since undergone two knee operations, and even with a rescheuled date of the upcoming first major of the year, the 6-times champion at Melbourne Park confessed his chances of participating down under next February are slim.
Federer added, “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.”
Tennis Australia is working closely with the Victorian government to move the dates from its original 18th January to 8th February to incorporate a period of mandatory quarantine for all players and staff as a measure to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infections.
The former World No.1 is confident of one last swansong at least during the summer, with his priority firmly on Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics – the latter where he is still searching for an elusive singles Gold medal.
Since making his debut at the 1999 Australian Open in which he lost in first round of qualifying, Federer has appeared in a record 21 successive Australian Opens.
In January 2017, he made a spectacular comeback from a similar position, recovering from knee injury to win his first Grand Slam in five years. But after defending his title a year later, he is yet to add to his Grand Slam tally which stands at 20 – level with his old rival Rafael Nadal who equaled Federer’s record at this year’s French Open.
Federer is adamant he will play apart in the upcoming 2021 season, but he did not rule out he may have played his last match.
“I hope there is still something to see from me next year,” he added. “But if that was it, that would have been an incredible ending for me at these Sports Awards.”