Roger Federer 'not the player he was' says Rupert Bell
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Roger Federer has been warned that he will not be competitive when he returns from injury later this year, and the chances of him winning again at Wimbledon next year will be slim. The Swiss icon has previously indicated that he wants to play Wimbledon one more time, but Ion Tiriac has thrown cold water on his chances of winning and believes that he will struggle to break Jimmy Connors’ record.
Federer is six titles away from Connors’ record of 109, but may not be able to reach that accolade if he can’t compete at the highest level on his comeback from injury.
“At 40 years old, I had already retired,” Tiriac told Eurosport Spain. “But I was playing eight hours a day with Guillermo Vilas. I started playing tournaments for fun and I reached 60th in the world in three months.
“With Vilas in doubles, we were No. 2 or 3 in the world, we were at the Masters. If you like tennis, fine, but being competitive at 40 years old… no, no.”
The 20-time Grand Slam champion has been out of action since suffering a setback to his knee injury at Wimbledon last year and had to undergo a fourth knee surgery since 2016. Federer will be 41 at the Laver Cup where he is planning to make his comeback, and there has been speculation that he will retire from the sport in the near future as he has played just five tournaments in the last two years.
He is however hoping to compete at Wimbledon again, despite ruling himself out of this year’s competition. “It was a great effort last year on one leg,” Federer’s agent Tony Godsick said. “And I think he’d like another Wimbledon. That place has been incredibly special to him.
“He won’t rush back this time. He will have to be 100 per cent and know he’s 100 per cent and that’s why he’s taking his time doing heavy rehab and training. It’s not just when [the] knee feels good but building up the muscles and getting lungs back. I know he’s encouraged where he is.
“I don’t want to be the doctor but what I hope for him is to be able to have a great rehab this summer, play some in the fall and give a nice shot at 2023, and then see what happens. I haven’t talked to him about that.”
Federer is set to return at the Laver Cup in London’s O2 Arena in September, before playing his first ATP Tour event at his home tournament in Basel a month later, and is not planning any more events in the meantime.
“I haven’t planned more than the Laver Cup and Basel yet,” he said. “After Basel, the season is over anyway. It’s important for me to get fit again so that I can train fully. Once I’ve done that, I can choose how many tournaments I play and where. The Laver Cup is a good start, I don’t have to play five matches in six days. I will be able to do that in Basel.”
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