Tennis icon Roger Federer has gone under the knife for a second time this year after a ‘setback’ in rehabilitation for an ongoing knee concern.
The major blow will mean he misses the remainder of the 2020 campaign, but the Swiss maestro has promised to return next year despite turning 39 in August.
The world number four has not played since losing in the Australian Open semi-finals at the hands of Novak Djokovic in January. He underwent surgery the following month on his right knee, but has now revealed his recovery did not go to plan.
Federer took to social media with the devastating news.
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“Dear fans,” Federer wrote. “I hope you are staying safe and healthy.
“A few weeks ago, having experienced a setback during my initial rehabilitation, I had to have an additional arthroscopic procedure on my right knee.
“Now, much like I did leading up to the 2017 season, I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 per cent ready to play at my highest level.
“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. All the best, Roger.”
The impacts of coronavirus has seen the 2020 tennis schedule thrown into disarray. The US Open is set to be the first major tournament to be held following the tour’s shutdown some months ago, with the grand slam scheduled to start on August 24. But Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have expressed major concerns about attending, or if the tournament should even be held.
“I had a telephone conversation with the leaders of world tennis. There were talks about the continuation of the season, mostly about the US Open due in late August, but it’s not known whether it will be held,” Djokovic told Serbia’s Prva TV.
“The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme. We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week.
“Also, we could bring one person to the club, which is really impossible. I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist.”
Nadal said he would not travel to the US under current circumstances.
“For me, [it] is very difficult to separate the status that the world is living from my real perspective on the world of tennis, no?” he said earlier this week.
“We need to be responsible, we need to be sure that the situation is safe enough, and then of course try to come back to our tour when the things are clear.”
The French Open – Roland Garros – is set to be held the following month, a short turnaround that will put additional strain on players who will likely have played few lead-up tournaments before back-to-back majors.
For senior competitors like Federer, playing in both competitions was already highly unlikely.
And given Wimbledon’s cancellation this season, the men’s all-time Grand Slam singles record-holder was unlikely to add to his tally in 2020.
The question now must be whether he will manage to add another to the 20 Grand Slam singles next year – or before retiring.