Roger Federer has withdrawn from the Australian Open 2021, with his agent stating he needs more time to get back to 100% fitness. While the signs indicate Federer will likely return to the circuit in late February or March, Australian doubles legend Todd Woodbridge believes the Swiss' semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic last year may have been his last match at the 'Happy Slam'.
Todd Woodbridge, one half of the legendary Woodies duo from Australia, won 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles in his career. Now one of the top TV analysts in the game, Woodbridge recently gave his thoughts on Roger Federer's potential future.
"It's a big disappointment for everyone, including himself, and it quite possibly means we won't see Roger Federer competing in Australia again at a Grand Slam, which is a great loss," Woodbridge said. "It's a loss that was expected, but I think we all would have liked it to have come on his terms, and not by the way it's come about."
According to Woodbridge, the quarantine regulations in Melbourne likely played a crucial role in Roger Federer deciding not to make the trip Down Under. Players are allowed to travel with limited support staff to Melbourne this year, and can spend only up to five hours a day outside their rooms for the first two weeks after arrival.
Federer usually travels with his wife and four kids in addition to his support team. Moreover, the 39-year-old has not played since January 2020 due to his knee surgeries, which means he hasn't yet experienced what it's like to play in a biosecure 'bubble'.
"The difficulty for him, I think, has been fitness obviously, but also quarantining," Woodbridge added. "In the end that was probably the tipping point that made him decide not to come."
The recovery after matches will be the biggest challenge for Roger Federer: Todd Woodbridge
Like the rest of the tennis world, Todd Woodbridge is also uncertain about how the Roger Federer comeback will play out in 2021. The Aussie opined that a lot would depend on how the tennis calendar shapes up next year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"At this point it's too hard to say," Woodbridge said. "It all rests on how the COVID schedule plays out. His goals, I assume, would be to play at the Olympics and at Wimbledon. Wimbledon is the Major that I see him being able to win at this stage of his career. But if Roger Federer misses too much matchplay, it's very hard to see him being able to go all the way at a Slam."
Woodbridge also believes that recovery after matches will be one of the biggest challenges for Roger Federer, who turns 40 next August.
"That's the biggest challenge," the Aussie went on. "It won't be the first match or two, he's so natural that he can come out and play shots and play well. It's all about the recovery. After he's played two tough matches, can he back up for a third? How will the body feel? Will the legs be tired? They're all the things you find at that age."Published 31 Dec 2020, 17:54 IST