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"Does Roger Federer need to play?" - Ronnie O'Sullivan on what is motivating the Swiss to delay retirement

Roger Federer
Roger Federer
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Modified 20 Feb 2021
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Tennis legends Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters have been dodging questions about their retirement for many years now. Every earlier-than-expected loss at a Major event or a new injury raises the inevitable query - "How much longer before they retire?"

Those questions have come up once again this week, after Serena Williams' semifinal loss at the Australian Open on Thursday. And there will be plenty of such chatter when Roger Federer makes his long-awaited comeback next month in Doha after a year on the sidelines.

In that context, snooker legend Ronnie O' Sullivan has provided a unique perspective to the predicament faced by ageing sporting legends.

O'Sullivan is a six-time world champion in snooker and the most successful player in the history of snooker's Triple Crown Series. Even at the age of 45, O'Sullivan continues to compete with aplomb on the snooker circuit.

Snooker player Ronnie O
Snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan (R) watches the Roger Federer vs David Ferrer at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in 2010

O'Sullivan believes that older athletes need to adapt to compete with the younger generation, and he cited the example of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams to reinforce his point.

"I can’t compete with the younger players. They pot too good and have a lot of cue power," O' Sullivan said in an interview with Eurosport. "It is like tennis, a lot of the older players like Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal."

O'Sullivan also attempted to explain why someone like Roger Federer continues to plug away, despite not 'needing' to do so. According to the Englishman, just the chance to be active - instead of being cooped up at home - is enough motivation for Federer to delay his retirement.

"You have these young guys coming so they are not going to have it their own way as much, so you have to adapt. Does Roger Federer need to play? Probably not but he probably quite enjoys getting out of the house."

Roger Federer will make his comeback in the Middle East next month

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Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Roger Federer has announced that he will make his comeback at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha next month. The tournament is scheduled to begin on March 8, and is the first event that the 20-time Slam champion has entered since the 2020 Australian Open.

Roger Federer has also entered the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships the following week.

The Swiss maestro underwent surgery on his right knee in February last year, and another procedure in June, after which he announced he would return only in 2021. Federer decided not to make the trip to Melbourne for the ongoing Australian Open, as he wanted to be 100% ready before making his comeback.

The Swiss legend has been practicing in Dubai since December, his usual base for the off-season.

Published 20 Feb 2021, 13:03 IST
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