Roger Federer, who holds the Grand Slam record in men’s tennis with Nadal, announced through his agent that he won’t be playing the Australian Open this year. He is not in proper physical shape to compete yet. The Swiss maestro is still recovering from his knee injury and hopes to be ready at the end of February.
It was bad news for the tennis world that waits eagerly for the Swiss to come back to the competition. In this sense, he is still the favorite of tennis fans as he was named Fan’s Favorite for the 18th straight year, despite not playing since the Australian Open.
At the same time, the Swiss player is still battling to end his career with the record of Grand Slams and a whole year without competition is not the best of news for him. Federer (39 years old) is tied atop the rankings with 20 Majors, together with Rafael Nadal (34), and followed by Djokovic (33) with 17 Majors.
Therefore, the question is whether Roger Federer can keep his Grand Slam all-time record or not.
Can Federer Maintain His Grand Slam Record?
Some Tennis Experts Bet For Nadal or Djokovic
Some tennis experts doubt Federer’s chances to end his career with more Grand Slams than Nadal and Djokovic.
Some days ago, Tim Henman said that Novak Djokovic could end his career as the man with most mMjors. His compatriot and former player Greg Rusedski also thinks that Nadal will win more Majors than Federer.
Goran Ivanisevic, the current Djokovic’s trainer, also predicted in an interview in June that both Djokovic and Nadal will end their careers with more Majors than Federer. He even dared to say that Federer will not win any more Grand Slams.
Even Andy Murray, who shared a court many times with all “Big 3” members said that both Nadal and Djokovic will surpass Federer in Grand Slam titles.
What Does Federer Think About His Grand Slam Record?
So, it seems hard to find any positive voices that support Federer in his fight to keep his all-time Grand Slam record. But what does Roger Federer himself think about it? Well, apparently, he thinks quite similarly to them.
In an interview before the 2020 Australian Open, the Swiss was pretty clear when he was asked for the Grand Slam record. “I think, the way it’s going, obviously, Rafa and Novak will win more.” Then, even Federer seems to be aware of his disadvantage against Nadal and Djokovic.
A Fight Against Time
But why are tennis experts and Federer himself so pessimistic about his chances to end his career keeping the record? Mainly because his fight is not only against Nadal and Djokovic but also against time.
The Swiss player is 39 years old, and he is been struggling with a knee injury all year. This fact makes his goal of finishing with the Grand Slam record even more difficult. It not only depends on his talent but also on being healthy and fit. Even when he comes back to the court, he will probably need some months to be competitive again.
After a long time without competing, there is uncertainty around his current level of tennis. Not many players were able to recover their level of tennis after such a big break. Maybe a good example to look at would be Juan Martín Del Potro. In this sense, despite barely playing matches for two years was able to regain his best level and fight for big titles again in 2016. However, Del Potro wasn’t in his late thirties.
A Fierce Competition On The Tour
Besides that, there is also fierce competition right now in every Major. Federer won’t compete only against Nadal and Djokovic but also against Dominic Thiem. The Austrian won his first Grand Slam in 2020 and dominates against “The Big 3” in their recent matches. He is 9-3 head-to-head since 2019.
And what about the young guns? There are many young players claiming their place in tennis. They all are with the tank full of gas and ready to compete against the big legends. Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner, and Andrey Rublev are the big names, but there are many others.
Are There Any Points In Favor Of Federer?
After the long list of cons, is there any chance that Federer will finish with more Grand Slams than any other player? Well, the chances are few, indeed, but nothing is impossible.
Not So Physically Dependent As Other Players
There are some things on Federer’s side, and the first one is the great way he came back in 2017 after a long injury. It’s not the same because he was four years younger and the break was shorter but it still can be something to hold on to.
In this sense, Federer has a unique style when playing tennis. He is probably one of the most aggressive players on the tennis tour and that aggressiveness allows him to save energy. If we had to bet for a player that can play at a good level in his late thirties this is Roger Federer. The main reason is that he doesn’t depend so much on his physical condition as the other players.
Another reason to believe in his chances to keep the Grand Slam record is that none of the other Open Era legends won a Grand Slam after the age of 33. And both Nadal and Djokovic are above that age. Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver… all of them won their last Grand Slam at less than 33 years old. This means that every Grand Slam victory seems to be more difficult after that age. So that Nadal and Djokovic will not have it so easy to keep winning Majors.
The Young Guns Can Be His Best Allies
At the same time, the young guns are also competing against Nadal and Djokovic, not only against Federer. In fact, they could be the best ally for Federer. They are getting closer to “Big 3” level judging by what we saw in the 2020 ATP Finals.
Besides that, Federer is not the only one who will need to be healthy to compete again. Also, both Nadal and Djokovic suffered big injuries in the past and had to stop playing. Of course, we want all of them to be healthy but unfortunately, nobody is exempt from injuries.
Difficult But Not Impossible
In conclusion, it is true that Federer will find it difficult to finish with more Grand Slams than Nadal and Djokovic, but nothing is impossible. His rivals also need to win more Majors to surpass him, and nowadays winning a Major is not an easy task. So then, there is still a little ray of hope for the most loyal fans of the Swiss.
In any case, the first step is to be fully recovered from the injury and to start competing again. Only then we will clear some doubts about the real chances to keep his all-time record.
Main Photo from Getty.