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Roger Federer not keen on playing in empty stadiums, says he 'doesn't miss tennis so much'

  • Roger Federer thinks it would be very difficult for players to participate in big tournaments without any spectators.
  • Federer is using this break to spend time with his family, and is not missing training right now.
Sohinee Basu
Modified 22 May 2020, 14:26 IST

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

The entire sporting landscape has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing players to wonder what lies ahead. And Roger Federer, who is used to playing in front of large, booming crowds, is dreading the near future in the aftermath of the virus - where players will likely have to play in empty stadiums.

Just like every other sport, international tennis has been suspended till the end of July and is expected to make a return in August. However, Roger Federer doesn't think it would be wise to rush the restarting of the 2020 season given that the COVID-19 crisis is still looming large.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion feels that it would be a mistake to return to the courts without any spectators present in the stadium.

"In my view, I can’t see an empty stadium. I cannot. I hope that doesn’t happen," Roger Federer said.
Roger Federer gets ready to toss a ball into the crowd
Roger Federer gets ready to toss a ball into the crowd

Players bank on encouragement from their fans during a match, and love to soak in the loud cheers and general cacophony that ripples through the stands after every great point. Tennis crowds play an understated but crucial role in the tempo and direction of every match.

Roger Federer, who is used to playing in packed stadiums which echo with chants of his name, mentioned that he would find it extremely difficult to play in empty stadiums during big tournaments. Despite being used to training under quiet conditions, Federer feels the situation would be completely different during a live, heated match.

"Most of the time we are training there is no one, everything is quiet, in silence. For us, of course, it is possible to play without any fans," Federer said. "But on the other hand, I really hope that the circuit can return as it normally is. Maybe we wait for the appropriate time to return to normal mode again. (Or) at least a third of the stadium or half full. But for me, completely empty when playing in big tournaments is very difficult." 

I don’t miss tennis so much: Roger Federer

Roger Federer with wife Mirka
Roger Federer with wife Mirka

The COVID-19 crisis has forced people to stay indoors, and for the 38-year-old - who is grounded in Basel with his wife and four kids - this intervention has turned into a much-needed break. The toil and rigors of the tour often rob players of family time, so Roger Federer is making full use of the opportunity now.

"We have never stayed at home more than five weeks since my last surgery in 2016. This is a great time for us, as a family," Federer said. "Of course we sometimes drive each other crazy, like any family (laughs). But honestly, we are healthy, our friends and family did not have the virus, which is important for us. And we're doing well despite the circumstances."

Roger Federer is also using this time to lend a hand to his countrymen affected by the virus, and to feed families in Africa. Recently, Federer joined the Winning Together campaign at the request of his old friend Guga Kuerten, to help combat hunger among Brazilian families.

Amidst all these activities, Federer has not been training much. After undergoing knee surgery in February he had anyway decided to take some time off, but while he had initially planned to return in June, right now he is not rushing anything.

Federer said he will only get back to training once the crisis nears its end, which he feels is still a long way off.

"I’m not training at the moment because I don’t see a reason for that to be honest. I am happy with my body now and I still believe that the (final) lap of the circuit is a long way off. And I think it’s important for my head at this point to enjoy this break after playing so much tennis. I don’t miss it so much. I will feel it eventually when I am close to returning and have a goal to train for. I’m going to be super motivated," Roger Federer elaborated.

Published 22 May 2020, 14:19 IST
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