Legendary Swiss star Roger Federer underwent the first of his two knee surgeries back in February. He was on course for a return this year itself but was unfortunate enough to suffer a setback while rehabilitating. That forced the Swiss to undergo another surgery on the same knee, which ruled him out for the entirety of 2020.
There are many in the tennis community who believe that Federer is lucky to have undergone this injury problem during the COVID-19 pandemic, as he isn't missing much. Switzerland's Fed Cup captain Heinz Gunthardt, however, believes that Roger Federer doesn’t stand to gain a lot from this crisis.
Gunthardt also gave his thoughts regarding Novak Djokovic and his role in the Adria Tour.
Swiss Fed Cup captain disagrees that Roger Federer stands to gain from the new ranking system
Under normal circumstances, Roger Federer would have plummeted down the rankings for missing a spree of tournaments this year. The Swiss might even have found himself well out of the top 50 by the time he returned, considering he hasn't stepped on a court since February.
However, earlier this month the ATP introduced a new system to protect players' ranking points amid the coronavirus-enforced rescheduling of the tour. Roger Federer will be a beneficiary of that, as he is now unlikely to fall out of the top 10.
But Heinz Gunthardt feels there are 'no winners' in an event as catastrophic as the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I completely disagree," Gunthardt said. "There are basically no winners in sports during the pandemic. If there is no game, there will be no winners.”
This is a rather broad perspective but it is probably true, especially in an individual sport like tennis. Moreover, Roger Federer is a player of such high caliber that rankings and seedings don’t really impact him too much.
When he came back from injury to play the 2017 Australian Open, he was seeded 17th and had to face the likes of Berdych, Nishikori and Wawrinka before the finals. Federer was also drawn to face the top seed Andy Murray in the quarterfinals, before the Scot was knocked out by Mischa Zverev.
Roger Federer, of course, ended up winning the tournament and reclaiming the No. 1 ranking a year later. That gives Federer and his fans enough reason to believe that he is capable of an encore in 2021.
Gunthardt, however, is cautious on that front as he expressed concern regarding Federer’s age:
“There is also the time factor; a 25-year-old player can bridge a phase more easily than a 39-year-old. So Roger is definitely not a winner of the Corona crisis for me,” he said.
Roger Federer is currently recovering well after his second surgery. His friend and coach Severin Luthi recently revealed that the 20-time Grand Slam champion was back to physical training and would return to racquet-training in mid-August.
Novak Djokovic took a risk that he could not estimate: Heinz Gunthardt
Heinz Gunthardt also spoke about World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who continues to scrutinized for his role in the controversial Adria Tour.
The Serb hosted and organised the exhibition tournament in the Balkans but failed to follow or enforce any social distancing norms. Eventually, four players - including Novak Djokovic himself - got infected by the dreaded COVID-19.
But instead of adding heaping more brickbats on Djokovic, Gunthardt, chose to commend his intentions behind hosting the tournament.
“The thought behind it was certainly a good one," Gunthardt said. "But Djokovic could not assess the risk of infection during the Adriatic tour. Very little was known about the virus. And even today, the experts disagree on how to deal with it.”
The Swiss did, however, go on to blame the lack of awareness and anticipation shown by Djokovic.
“The bottom line is that Djokovic took a risk with the tour that he could not estimate. Unfortunately God's gunshot backfired,” Gunthardt said.Published 25 Jul 2020, 23:10 IST