The coronavirus pandemic has put the 2020 tennis season in jeopardy, and former World No. 1 Boris Becker believes that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be the most adversely affected by the break.
Tennis tournaments all around the world came to an abrupt halt after the epidemic started spreading globally. The Indian Wells Masters and the Miami Masters were the first to be cancelled, but that was just the start.
With social distancing being the need of the hour, most countries started enforcing lockdown measures that eventually led to the season being suspended till 31 July. Wimbledon is the biggest tennis casualty of the epidemic; the grasscourt Major has been cancelled for the first time since World War II.
The Swiss, who underwent a knee surgery in February, was planning to return to action during the grass season. A ninth Wimbledon crown was his single biggest goal of the year, especially after his 2019 heartbreak where he squandered two championship points against Novak Djokovic.
Roger Federer is not getting any younger: Becker
Next year Federer will be approaching his 40th birthday by the time Wimbledon comes around, and according to Becker that is cause for concern.
Terming 2020 as a "lost year", the six-time Major winner told Laureus.com that even though Federer has been doing the unthinkable over the last few years, winning a Slam at near-40 might be too tall a task.
"The jury is out on which of the top tennis stars will suffer most from what could become a lost year. Just by pressure logic, the older players will suffer because they have a lost year. We know Roger Federer defies the odds, but he will be reaching 40 next year and he won't get any younger.”
Rafael Nadal's chances slipping away too
Rafael Nadal is five years younger than the Swiss, but he is not in a great position either. The 33-year-old's best chance would definitely be on the terre battue of Paris, where he has reigned supreme 12 out of the last 15 years. But with the French Open now pushed back to September, it remains to be seen how well Nadal copes with the different weather conditions.
The change in the schedule could rob the World No. 2 the chance of drawing level with Federer, according to Becker.
“Nadal has won the French 12 times. He had a chance to equal Roger Federer there and that's something everybody probably thought would be possible, but now that's not happening."
The timing of the resumption of tennis will play a key role in the fortunes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, according to Becker. The German believes that if none of the remaining Slams can be played this year, then the young guns could well step up in 2021.
Dominic Thiem led the charge of the younger generation at the 2020 Australian Open, reaching the final before going down to Novak Djokovic in five sets. And with the likes of Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas maturing further, the list of challengers to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is only going to get longer.