Federer had been going through a number of injury issues since the conclusion of last year’s Australian Open and after Wimbledon, the Swiss maestro decided to quit the remainder of the 2016 tennis season to fully recover from his knee injury.
This long break resulted in his ranking dropping from 3rd to 16th meaning Fed-Ex fell out of the Top 10 for the first time since 2002.Returning from injury in the Hopman Cup, Federer began his season with a win over Great Britain’s Daniel Evans before losing an exciting battle against young talent Alexander Zverev.
Through his performances so far, the 35-year old has given the hint that he could make a terrific comeback this year so let’s take a look at five things that would be expected of him in 2017.
#5. A totally rejuvenated Federer
Federer is already in his mid-30s but he didn’t show any signs of slowing until last year when he began to have injury concerns with his knee in February which caused him to miss the remainder of the hardcourt season.
During the clay court season, he suffered a back injury which eventually forced him to pull out of the French Open which was the first time since the 2000 Australian Open that the former World Number 1 did not participate in the main draw of a Grand Slam.
Following his semi-final defeat at Wimbledon to Milos Raonic, he announced that he would be sitting out the rest of the 2016 season.
After recovering from the injuries, Federer has been practicing hard and given how confidently he has spoken about his fitness to the media, it is evident that he has completely regained fitness.
His longtime fitness trainer, Pierre Pagani has stated that Federer still feels like he is 25. Fitness has been a key in the 35-year-old’s longevity and a fully fit Federer could be a nightmare for any opponent.
#4. Stiff competition between the Big Four
The Big Four of tennis namely, Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray have been in terrific form lately, although, they haven’t been having the type of competition they used to have during the late 2000s and the early 2010s.
In 2016, they hardly had much competition among themselves with Federer and Nadal being absent during a number of big tournaments before both of them quit the remainder of the ATP World Tour due to fitness concerns.
Both the former World No. 1s utilized their respective breaks to full effect and have regained their fitness with Federer doing well in the Hopman Cup and Nadal having reached the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International without dropping a single set.
With both Federer and Nadal fit and back on the ATP World Tour, the likes of Djokovic and Murray could be given a run for their money and the Big Four might have an exciting competition among themselves in 2017.
#3. A second Davis Cup for Switzerland
After leading Switzerland to Davis Cup Glory in 2014, Federer last featured in the Davis Cup in 2015 during the World Group Play-offs. He did not play in the World Group and the Swiss were beaten 3-2 by Belgium in the first round.
Federer could not feature for last year’s Davis Cup due to injury and in his absence, his compatriots were thrashed 5-0 by Italy in the first round.However, given the embarrassing defeat Switzerland faced in 2016, the Swiss Davis Cup team would want to add the likes of Federer and Wawrinka in their setup when they take on the United States in the first round of the World Group that begins next month.
Federer’s addition to the Swiss Davis Cup team would be extremely beneficial for them and the possibility of a second Davis Cup might be imminent.
#2. Return to the Top 5 of the ATP rankings
Despite having an injury plagued season last year, Federer was able to be in the top three of the ATP rankings till his semi-final defeat at Wimbledon after which his injury break pushed him down to 16th in the ATP rankings.
Now fully recovered, Federer’s performance in the Hopman Cup have been encouraging despite his loss to 19-year-old, Alexander Zverev. A fully fit Federer could be a player that any opponent would fear playing against and provided he maintains his fitness, he could make a comeback to the Top 5 of maybe even better by the end of 2017.
#1. A possible 18th Grand Slam
It’s been 1643 days since Federer last won a Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2012. Since that triumph, Federer has reached three Grand Slam finals but has fallen short on all three occasions to Novak Djokovic.
With his rejuvenation, we might see Federer capture an 18th Grand Slam title. He will be playing at the Australian Open this year and although he might be considered as a contender to win the title, Federer’s best chance of Grand Slam glory would be his beloved Wimbledon which he has won seven times in his career.
Although his best bet might be the grass courts of England, his opponents shouldn’t underestimate the ability of a living legend in Roger Federer.