Federer admits he is in 'a race against time for the Australian Open'

Roger Federer admits he is in ‘a race against time for the Australian Open’ and could miss the Grand Slam unless Covid-19 means further delays as 39-year-old endures slow recovery from two knee surgeries

  • Roger Federer might miss Australian Open even if it is delayed until February
  • Federer said he was taking longer than expected to return from knee surgery
  • The Swiss maestro had two operations and last played in Melbourne in January
  • The six-time champion said he has been making ‘steady progress’ in recovery  

Roger Federer said his recovery from two surgeries on his left knee earlier this year has taken longer than expected and he is unsure whether he will be ready for the Australian Open.

Federer, who turns 40 in August next year, has not played a competitive match since losing to Novak Djokovic in this season’s semi-finals at Melbourne Park in January. 

The winner of 20 Grand Slam singles titles, a record he shares with Rafael Nadal, said in October he was practising pain-free and expected to return to the circuit at the first Grand Slam of the year.

Roger Federer’s recovery from two knee surgeries might mean he misses the Australian Open

Federer’s last match on tour was a three-set loss to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne in January

‘I would have hoped that I would be 100 per cent in October. But I am still not today. It will be tight for the Australian Open,’ local media quoted Federer as saying late on Sunday at the Sports Awards ceremony in Switzerland.

‘The second knee operation was a huge damper, but in the last six months there has been steady progress.

‘Let’s see how the next two months will unfold. I’ve been doing a lot of physio and physical work lately, now let’s see how tennis is doing.’

The Australian Open is scheduled for January 18-31, but there have been reports it could be pushed back to a February 8-21 window due to Covid-19 protocols.

Even with a three-week delay it might not be enough for Federer, who has won the Australian Open six times.

Federer and Rafael Nadal embrace after their epic five-set tussle at the Australian Open in 2017

The most recent of these triumphs was in 2017, when Federer defeated Nadal in five sets to win his first Grand Slam since seeing off Andy Murray in the 2012 Wimbledon final. 

The 2017 Australian Open was also his first tournament for six months after suffering a similar knee injury in semi-final loss to Milos Raonic at the All England Club.  

‘It’s a race against time for the Australian Open. I’m curious to see whether it will start on February 8,’ Federer said. ‘Of course, it would help if I had a bit more time.’

Federer was joined on 20 majors in October by Nadal after the Spaniard won the French Open

Federer was voted the best Swiss athlete since 1950 at Sunday’s ceremony and said it was an ‘incredible’ honour.

‘I hope there is still something to see from me next year,’ he added. ‘But if that was it, that would have been an incredible ending for me at these Sports Awards.’

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