Roger Federer is closing in on a return to the ATP tour; the Swiss intends to play the 2021 Australian Open. But at 39 years of age, he faces an uphill task to achieve the levels of fitness required to compete for Grand Slam titles.
Federer, who has not played a competitive match since the 2020 Australian Open, has undergone two knee surgeries this year. And Todd Woodbridge, a 16-time Grand Slam doubles champion, has painted a bleak picture of Federer's prospects.
The Australian has questioned whether Federer's body will be able to withstand the rigors of Grand Slam tennis, even if his skills are still in place.
The extra couple of years that Roger Federer has got on Rafa and Novak makes it tough, says Woodbridge
To lift another Major title, Roger Federer will have to win a total of seven matches in the space of two weeks. Given the level of competition that exists, coupled with Federer's waning form, it is unlikely he will have too many straightforward victories.
Federer won't have to contend with just Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic over the next year or so. He will also have to deal with the likes of Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who are all capable of making life difficult for the Swiss.
“It’s not about the quality of his play, it’s about can his body handle seven matches at a Slam?” Woodbridge questioned while speaking with Wide World of Sports.
“The actual ball-striking part of his game is probably as good as ever, but the body doesn’t come back as easily,” Woodbridge continued. “The extra couple of years he’s got on Rafa and Novak makes it tough.”
The last time Roger Federer went under the knife, he bounced back strongly and won the 2017 Australian Open. He defended his Australian Open title successfully the following year, but has not won a Grand Slam since.
It will be interesting to see how the Swiss fares in Melbourne when he returns to the court next year.