Roger Federer to miss US Open and undergo knee surgery
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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are set to make their respective comebacks next year after cutting their seasons short with injuries. The Spaniard will play an exhibition in Abu Dhabi next month before returning to competition at January’s Australian Open, while Federer is hoping to get back on the match court later next season. Former world No 4 Greg Rusedski has given his verdict on their comeback chances and shared the main aims he believes the 20-time Grand Slam champions will be targeting on return.
Nadal is gearing up to return to competition at the season-opening Australian Open.
The world No 6 is said to be near “100 per cent” after ending his 2021 season with a left foot injury, and will be testing his match fitness at next month’s Mubadala World Tennis Championships exhibition event in Abu Dhabi before heading Down Under.
Meanwhile, his friend and long-time rival Federer played just five tournaments this year before shutting down his season after aggravating an ongoing knee injury on the grass courts of Wimbledon.
The 40-year-old had not played since the 2020 Australian Open – ending his season before the pandemic suspended tennis for several months – and underwent two knee surgeries before returning in Doha this year, but later decided to stop competing in 2021 and undergo a third procedure on his troublesome knee.
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Federer has since ruled out playing in the Australian Open and cast serious doubt over his participation at Wimbledon, saying he would be “extremely surprised” to make it back in time for the grass court season, but hoped to return “to competition in the summer of 2022.”
Now, former world No 4 Greg Rusedski has had his say on the pair’s comebacks, and said both players would be eyeing a 21st Grand Slam title, with both of them plus Djokovic tied on 20 Majors each – a joint record for male singles players.
“Well Roger I think is focused on Wimbledon,” Rusedski said, speaking exclusively to Express Sport. “I don’t think he realistically believes he can win in Paris or he can win in Australia or the US Open.”
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The former British No 1 also pointed out that the Swiss tennis star had been able to make it all the way to the quarter-finals this year while not at his best and struggling with injury, making it the most realistic place Federer could pick up a 21st Grand Slam title.
He continued: “Wimbledon as we saw in ’19 he had a few match points against Novak.
“This year he didn’t play particularly well at Wimbledon and still make the quarter-finals so if he’s healthy, I think that’s where he believes he still has a shot to win and he wants to win the best titles, he just doesn’t want to make the numbers up so for Roger that’s probably the goal.”
Rusedski said Nadal would keep himself firmly focused on the French Open, where he is a 13-time champion.
“For Rafa it’s the French Open,” he said. “That’s where he thinks he can get number 21 because Djokovic is really the supreme player on hard courts.”
Despite backing the pair to focus on their most successful Major tournaments in the hopes of winning more Grand Slam titles, Rusedski also admitted their comebacks would be made much more difficult with the rise of top young stars including this year’s US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, and recent ATP Finals winner Alexander Zverev.
He added: “And you’re talking about the younger generation, they’re here now. I mean, out of the big three it’s really the big one left which is Novak who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere quite yet.
“It’s harder for Federer and Nadal now because Medvedev, Zverev, Tsitsipas, those guys are starting to believe. They’ve come very, very close.
“Medvedev finally beat Djokovic in a Grand Slam final, Tsitsipas was two-sets-to-love up in the finals of the French when Novak came to win in five sets, and Berrettini was in the other final (Wimbledon) so we had no Federer, no Nadal, only Djokovic out of the Big Three in the finals of a Major this year which is very unusual and unheard of in the last decade.”
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