Swiss tennis great Roger Federer said he hopes to recover from his latest knee surgery and get back on the ATP circuit next season.
“How, why and to do what, I don’t yet know, but that would be the idea,” the 20-time Grand Slam title winner and former world number one told Swiss daily Tagesanzeiger in an interview published on Sunday.
Federer, who will be 41 in August, has not played since a quarter-final defeat at Wimbledon almost a year ago and his latest knee surgery was his third in 18 months.
“I myself am curious to see what will follow,” Federer said. “But I have hope, I have already come a long way. I’m not far. The next three or four months will be extremely important.”
Federer told Swiss broadcaster SRF on Saturday that he is “currently focusing on (his) physical condition, so that there is no overload” and goes to the gym “five to six times a week”.
He is aiming for a return to action at the Laver Cup in London from September 23-25 and then his hometown tournament of Basel from October 24-30.
Federer, the winner of 103 trophies over his career, played only 13 matches in 2021 and just six in 2020. He is currently ranked 50th in ATP standings, his lowest in 22 years.
In 2013 he achieved one of the great shocks in tennis history, knocking defending champion Roger Federer out of Wimbledon.
Today, the Ukrainian player Sergiy Stakhovsky is a volunteer fighter on a military patrol in Kyiv, which he vows to defend “to the end” against Russian forces.
Now 36, he looks much the same as the journeyman player ranked 116 in the world who lay stretched out in his tennis whites on the hallowed London turf after toppling Federer in the second round nine years ago.
But his outfit now could not be more different as he patrols Maidan Square, symbol of Ukraine’s “fight for democracy”, armed with a Kalashnikov, a pistol in his belt, and his 1.93 metre (6 ft 4 in) frame dressed in khaki camouflage.
“I cannot say that I feel comfortable around a rifle. I am not sure how I am going to react to shooting at somebody,” he tells AFP. “I wish I would never have to be preoccupied with these things.”
It’s been just over two weeks since he returned to Ukraine and signed up for the territorial brigade, the volunteers tasked with helping the army against the Russian invasion launched on February 24.
“I knew I had to go there”, he says.
On the eve of the invasion, Stakhovsky was on holiday in Dubai with his wife and three children aged four, six, and eight, having hung up his racquet as a professional player in January after the Australian Open.
The next day, after seeing the television images of Russian bombs falling on his homeland, he says he was plunged into a mixture of “despair” and “misery”. Much of his family still lived in Ukraine. He spent the next three days at the hotel in a blur as he tried to get information about the situation on the ground, to find shelter for people
“I was full of adrenaline, I slept three or four hours (overall), I didn’t eat”. He then told his wife he had decided to go back.
“My wife was really upset, I mean, she knew, she understood but she was really upset,” he said. But “now she understands that I couldn’t really do it other way”.
The heartbreaking decision torments him every time he thinks of his family. “Leaving the kids is not something I’m proud of,” he says.
“My kids don’t know that I’m here, well, they know that I’m not at home, but they don’t know what war is and I’m trying to not get them involved. I told them I’d be right back, it’s been 15 days now… And God knows how many more it’s going to be”.
Like all Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60, Stakhovsky is eligible for call-up by the army and cannot leave the country when the country is at war. He says that he finds the strength to go because of his countrymen, whom he has seen sign up “in their thousands”.
“If we don’t stand up, we don’t have a country to live in,” he said. Federer ‘hopes for peace’
The former tennis pro now carries out two patrols a day lasting two hours each to guard the centre of Kyiv from possible infiltrations, particularly around the palace of President Volodymyr Zelensky, the hero of the resistance against Moscow.
“Listen, I am here on foot patrolling,” he said, adding of Zelensky that he was “remarkably brave and knows what he’s doing, and we all believe he knows what he’s doing.”
People from “India to South America” have sent thousands of messages of support and asking how they can help Ukraine, says Stakhovsky.
Among those are “hundreds” of professional tennis players who have not forgotten their former colleague, who rose to a world ranking of 31 in 2010 and was an unofficial spokesman for junior players.
Tennis legends have also offered their support — including the man he stunned at Wimbledon, Roger Federer himself.
“He said that he wishes that there will be peace soon,” said the Ukranian, adding that Federer and his wife were trying to help Ukranian children through their foundation.
One message that particularly touched him came from Serbian world number two Novak Djokovic.
“He lived through this when he was young so he knows exactly what our kids are going through. So from him, that message is, I would say, heavier in terms of meaning.”
As the Russians close in on Kyiv there are fears it could face the same fate as destroyed cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol.
“That’s disturbing”, he said, because “they don’t care whether they’re going to kill a child or military personnel, they just don’t care”.
Federer, who returns to action in Doha next week after more than a year out of action to recover from two knee surgeries, will slip out of the top five on Monday.
Djokovic made his top 100 debut in July 2005, just weeks after Nadal had won his first Roland Garros.
He was top 50 in June 2006, top 20 for the first time in October 2006 and top 10 by March 2007.
He first became world number one at the age of 24 on July 4, 2011, the day after winning Wimbledon for the first time, beating Nadal in the final.
– Brief dip and swift return –
Only a six-month injury absence in 2017 saw his ranking plunge, all the way to 22 the following summer.
It was just a blip — Djokovic was back at number one again by November and with the exception of November 2019 until January last year, when Nadal reclaimed pole position, he has been rock solid.
Few would bet against Djokovic, who in 2016 was the first man to break the $100 million prize money barrier, ending his career with more Slams than Federer and Nadal.
In head-to-heads, he leads Federer 27-23 and has won all six of their last meetings at the majors, including 2019’s epic Wimbledon final where he saved two match points.
Federer hasn’t beaten Djokovic at the Slams since Wimbledon in 2012.
Against Nadal, he has a 29-27 lead and is still one of only two men to have beaten the Spaniard at Roland Garros since 2005.
At least Nadal, however, can boast comfortably seeing off Djokovic in the 2020 Roland Garros final, denying the Serb the opportunity to become the first man in half a century to win all four Slams more than once.
Djokovic, whose lone French Open title came in 2016, has comfortably more Australian Opens than Federer (six) and Nadal (one).
His Wimbledon total stands at five to Federer’s eight and Nadal’s two.
At the US Open, he has three to Federer’s five and Nadal’s four.
“Obviously I have in my mind to win more Grand Slam titles and to break records.
“Until I retire from the tour, I will be devoting most of my attention and energy to winning the other major titles,” Djokovic said.
Twenty-time Grand Slam singles champion Roger Federer said Wednesday he will be sidelined until 2021 after undergoing his second knee operation in a matter of months.
The 38-year-old Swiss said he underwent follow-up arthroscopic surgery “a few weeks ago” after undergoing a similar keyhole procedure in February.
Federer, whose last Grand Slam win was the 2018 Australian Open, said he “experienced a setback during (his) initial rehabilitation”.
“I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 percent ready to play at my highest level,” he said in a statement on Twitter.
“I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of the 2021 season.”
The announcement is likely to renew speculation about retirement for Federer, who holds the record for men’s Grand Slam singles titles and last month topped Forbes’ list of the world’s highest earning athletes.
Federer, who won his first major trophy in 2003, lies just ahead of his longtime rivals Rafael Nadal (19) and Novak Djokovic (17) on the all-time list.
The biggest title he has yet to win is an Olympic singles gold medal.
The Tokyo Games — seen as Federer’s final opportunity to complete a career “golden” Grand Slam — have been postponed until next year because of the pandemic, and Federer will turn 40 on the day of the closing ceremony.
After the initial operation, Federer had originally planned to return for the now cancelled grass-court season this month. His last tournament match was on January 30 in the Australian Open semi-finals, where he lost to eventual champion Djokovic.
His last appearance on court was in front of 51,954 fans — touted by organisers as a world record for tennis — at a charity match against Nadal in Cape Town in early February.
Tennis ground to a halt in March because of the coronavirus, and the globetrotting sport faces an uncertain route to recovery given crippling travel restrictions.
In April, Federer said he was “devastated” when Wimbledon, where he has won a record eight titles, was cancelled for the first time since World War II.
Federer, known for his elegant style of play, has got off lightly with injuries during a career in which he has won 103 singles titles, including all four majors.
He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee — the first operation of his career — in early 2016 after suffering a freak injury while running a bath for his daughters.
But after failing to win a title that year Federer returned strongly in 2017, winning seven tournaments including the Australian Open and Wimbledon — his most prolific season in a decade.
He is still six ATP titles short of Jimmy Connors’ all-time record of 109.
Tour-level tennis has been suspended until the end of July at the earliest, with the US Open scheduled to start on August 24 and the rescheduled French Open on September 20.
Federer has not won the title at either Flushing Meadows or Roland Garros since his only French Open triumph in 2009.
Stefanos Tsitsipas shocked six-time champion Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4 to reach the final of the ATP Finals in his tournament debut on Saturday.
The Greek sixth seed, 17 years younger than his 38-year-old opponent, beat the Swiss at the Australian Open but had fallen to him twice since then.
Federer was unrecognisable from the player who dominated Novak Djokovic in his final round-robin match, struggling on serve and hitting a total of 26 unforced errors compared with just five against the Serbian.
But Tsitsipas belied his years with a performance full of confidence and grit, saving 11 out of 12 breakpoints during the match.
“I’m so proud of myself today, great performance and once again the people were great,” he said.
“I really enjoyed myself on the court and sometimes in matches like these, you wonder how you recover from difficulties and breakpoint down.
“It is a mental struggle and I’m proud how many I saved today, I was trying not to give an easy time to Roger, he was playing well.”
Coming into the match, the Greek 21-year-old led the tournament in service games won, with 35 out of 37.
Tsitsipas conceded a breakpoint in his first game as cries of “Let’s go, Roger, let’s go” rang around London’s O2 Arena but he survived the scare and broke Federer in the next game, taking advantage of two missed overheads from the Swiss.
Thereafter it was a case of what might have been for Federer, who dropped just six points on his serve in the first set and saw a whopping six break points come and go.
Tsitsipas was forced to dig deep to see out the set in a dramatic 13-minute final game in which he saved two break points and needed seven set points to close it out 6-3.
Federer was in deep trouble when Tsitsipas broke him to love in the third game of the second set but he finally made a breakpoint count — his 10th, to level at 2-2.
Undaunted, Tsitsipas, dominating rallies from the back of the court, broke again straight away with a forehand cross-court winner for a 3-2 lead.
At 5-4 down Federer knew he had to break Tsitsipas for only the second time in the match.
The Greek slipped to 15-40 down but Federer again could not take advantage, spraying a forehand out to give his opponent a match point and he won with a thundering ace.
A year ago, Tsitsipas won the Next Gen ATP Finals. Now, on his tournament debut, he is one match away from winning the season-ending event, featuring the year’s best eight players.
Tsitsipas first broke into the top 100 of the ATP rankings only 25 months ago.
He will play either defending champion Alexander Zverev or fifth seed Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final.
Five facts on Sunday’s Wimbledon men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer:
‘Big Three’ dominate
— With Djokovic and Federer in the final, the winner of Sunday’s match will extend the streak of Grand Slam titles won by the ‘Big Three’ of the pair plus Rafael Nadal to 11 straight major titles. Since Federer won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, just five Grand Slam finals have been contested by pairs of players outside the ‘Big Three’.
Golden oldie Federer
— At 37 years 340 days, Federer is bidding to become the oldest player in the Open era to win a Grand Slam men’s singles title.
Ken Rosewall is the only 37-year-old to have won a major singles title in that time – he won the 1972 Australian Open aged 37 years 62 days.
30-somethings still special
— The champion will extend the streak of Grand Slam titles won by players aged 30 or older. The last 12 Grand Slam titles – including at Wimbledon this year – will have been shared between players aged 30 or older.
Djokovic chases fifth Wimbledon title — Defending champion Djokovic is bidding to win his fifth Wimbledon title and equal Bjorn Borg and Laurie Doherty in fourth place on the all-time list. He is also chasing a 16th career major.
Federer to level Navratilova with nine?
— Federer is bidding to become the second player in history to win nine Wimbledon singles titles after Martina Navratilova who won nine women’s singles. Federer is also after 21st career Grand Slam title.
Roger Federer admitted that he got lucky after avoiding a major setback in his preparations for Wimbledon in a gruelling 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 7-5 victory over Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the ATP event in Halle on Thursday.
Federer, 37, appeared firmly on course for a place in the quarter-finals at a set and a break up before an impressive comeback from Tsonga took the second-round match to a decider.
“I knew when I gave away that lead that it would be tight. Then it was about holding my nerve,” he said.
“The third set was more of a battle. I tried to stay calm.
“It had a bit of everything: happiness, sadness, frustration. I maybe got a bit lucky, but you need that sometimes.
“It was a bit emotional at the end, which was nice.”
Federer said he felt for the defeated Tsonga, who returned to the tour this year after a seven-month absence due to a knee operation in 2018.
“I was pleased for him when he got an ovation at the end.”
The Swiss, who is eyeing a record tenth career title at Halle this year, faces Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the last eight on Friday.
“Roberto wins his points differently than Jo does. Jo does it with the serve, the power, the variety. Roberto does it with repetition,” said Federer.
– Zverev eases into quarters – Bautista Agut promised to take the fight to Federer after he eased to a 6-1, 6-4 victory over France’s Richard Gasquet.
“I feel I am a better player now than in the past. I will have to be aggressive with my return and push him as much as possible,” he said.
The 31-year-old Spaniard has not beaten Federer in eight meetings, and missed out on a chance to play him in last year’s final at Halle after retiring injured in the semi-finals.
“Hopefully I can finish the week better this year. It was bad luck last year because I felt really good on court in every match,” he said.
Home favourite Alexander Zverev also advanced to the quarter-finals with a comfortable 6-3, 7-5 win over American Steve Johnson.
The world number five faces Belgium’s David Goffin in the last eight on Friday.
“I am just happy to be on the court,” said Zverev, who has been struggling with a knee injury this week.
“My knee is very swollen. There are still some moves where it really hurts, but the pain is less than yesterday,” he said.
Elsewhere, Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, who was crowned champion in Stuttgart last week, came from behind to beat compatriot Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and secure a quarter-final clash with third-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov.