On September 25, Roger Federer reappeared at the DT Garden convention center in Boston after 80 days of public absence. The Swiss returned to the scene, but not to play. He did so on crutches, progressing meekly among Laver Cup fans and in a virtually unusual image since throughout his 23 professional seasons, the 20-grand champion has barely suffered scratches on his physical armor. In fact, he can boast that at 40 years of age – who turned 8 August – he has never abandoned a match of the 1,526 that he has played so far. The Swiss returned to the fore, always good news, but tennis made a nasty lump in his throat. This time there was no racket in hand.
A month ago, Federer had announced that he would undergo a new surgery on his right knee, the third in a year and a half. And previously, after being eliminated in the Wimbledon quarters by the Pole Hubert Hurkacz, he left an enigmatic farewell message. “If it was my last game here? I do not know, “he replied without losing his usual good tone, but with a slightly contorted face before finishing:” But at my age you never know what is around the corner. “
Then the one from Basel said that he needed to sit down with his family and evaluate how far the battered joint could go, if the recovery could become real and effective. But it went much further. Federer also talked about the game, rhythms and speeds. And, at the moment, regardless of his category and his unparalleled tennis, the Swiss does not have them all with him. In his twilight phase, no one is more aware than where he is: nicked and facing the last straight. However, he will rush all the options to grant himself one more dance and say goodbye at the height of what a myth of his size deserves. That is, rallying on a track.
“If it doesn’t hurt to lose, your days as a tennis player are over. It would be time to retire. But that defeat hurt me a lot [contra Hurkacz] and that is one of my strengths, to rebuild myself in the face of things like that ”, he recently stated in an interview with the magazine GQ. Federer, then, still stings the pride of the champion. The Swiss knows that the possibility of achieving a great 21st is practically a utopia, since to the difficulty of reenlisting it must be added the growing push of the new batches of players and also the fact that it has been giving up a space that it will hardly be able to recover.
After 1,736 days installed in the top ten of the ATP circuit, Federer, currently ninth in the world, will fall from the top-10. An event that had only happened once since he first assaulted him in 2002. It happened in early 2017, after half a year earlier he had to undergo an operation to restore the meniscus in his left knee. It dropped to 17th place, but it was a passing ellipsis. Upon his return, he redesigned his racket – lighter, more frame surface and thicker – and reinvented his backhand, allowing him to string three majors more and re-energize when many gave it up.
“Being 40 in tennis is like 65 in another job”
Today, the story is very different. Probably, there will be no revolution that is worth it. Between now and the end of the course, Federer will continue to fall on the list; the freezing of ranking During the inactivity of the pandemic it benefited him – under normal circumstances it could have fallen to 80º -, but until December it will continue to lose points. However, the genius – 103 trophies and 1,251 victories, only behind Jimmy Connors (1,276) in this last section – wishes a goodbye in conditions. “I do not want to cut time, but to make sure that I can do everything I want. The worst of this injury has already passed ”, he attenuates.
In any case, the figures appear and are scary: in two years, the Basel has played 19 games (14 wins and five losses), distributed in six tournaments. After the last defeat at Wimbledon, conceding a 6-0 in the third set, his body – and also his mind: “I feel terribly exhausted” – forced him to absent himself from the Tokyo Olympics and the US Open, as well as from interrupt by the very fact his calendar without guessing today any reference for the reappearance.
“To be clear, being 40 in tennis is like being 65 in any other job. I hope that Roger knows what to do and can finish his career in an ideal way ”, longs John McEnroe, while the protagonist marked the steps in a way as simple as enlightening through GQ: “I’m not kidding myself, everything I can do from now on will be an extra. I will have to run correctly first and then run, and then the approach to the game will change. The idea is to return in 2022, but I don’t know exactly when ”.