Andre Sa, the Head of Player Liaison for Tennis Australia, recently talked about the reasons behind Roger Federer's decision to withdraw from the 2021 Australian Open. Federer’s failure to achieve full fitness was previously cited as the only reason, but now it appears that the Swiss' wife Mirka played a big role in her husband's withdrawal.
A former Wimbledon quarterfinalist and World No. 55, Andre Sa now acts as the bridge between the players and Tennis Australia. He is one of the key figures responsible for communicating the Australian Open's quarantine-related guidelines to the players.
In a recent interview with Ace Bandsports, Andre Sa revealed that he had had a telephonic conversation with Roger Federer a few days before the 39-year-old announced his decision to pull out of the event. According to the Brazilian, the Swiss legend had mentioned his wife Mirka’s unwillingness to spend 14 days confined within the walls of a hotel room.
The players will be allowed to leave their hotel rooms for five hours everyday during quarantine, but the relaxation doesn't extend to the players' entourages. That apparently didn't sit well with Mirka, especially since she would be accompanied by her four children too.
"The main reason was the quarantine," Sa said. "I talked to him a month ago, and he had two options. He could come with the whole family and quarantine them. The problem is that Mirka (Federer's wife) and her children couldn't leave the room. They would have to stay 14 days in the room. The exception is only for players. He could go out, train, and come back, but the family couldn't. Mirka did not approve the idea."
It appears that Roger Federer had the option of making the journey to Melbourne without his family, but he firmly rejected the idea. Andre Sa revealed that Federer had no intention of staying away from his children for such a long period of time at this stage of his life.
The Australian government requires all players to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Melbourne. So Roger Federer would have had to fly to Melbourne in the first half of January, thus keeping him away from his family for nearly six weeks.
"The other option would be for him to come alone," Sa continued. "Only there would be at least five weeks away from family and children. And then he said, 'Dude, 39, four kids, 20 Grand Slams. I am no longer in time to be away from my family for five weeks'."
Will similar restrictions at the other Slams derail Roger Federer’s season?
Seeing how Mirka Federer is against the idea of herself and her kids spending time in quarantine, her husband’s participation at the other Majors this year could be tricky too.
European events might have the advantage of being closer to home, with a familiar set of rules for Roger Federer’s family. As such, the 39-year-old's participation at Roland Garros (if he wishes to play the clay swing) doesn’t look too improbable at the moment.
Wimbledon is currently at risk of being canceled for the second year in a row, seeing how the UK’s fight against COVID-19 has taken a turn for the worse. If the event does occur, it will be interesting to see how Roger Federer and Mirka deal with the rules in place.
That said, it is doubtful that Federer will give up arguably his last and best chance of winning a Slam.
It is hoped that by the time the US Open comes along in August, the world would have brought the situation under control - thus requiring fewer (or less stringent) rules on the players.Published 07 Jan 2021, 01:57 IST