Roger Federer’s biographer and sports journalist Simon Graf has rubbished the recent claims which suggested that the Swiss legend withdrew from the Australian Open on the behest of his wife, Mirka.
Andre Sa, Tennis Australia's Head of Player Liaison, had recently revealed he had gotten in touch with Roger Federer, who had apparently conveyed his wife's disapproval of the quarantine rules. But Simon Graf, who is closely linked to Federer, asserted that the 39-year-old would have taken part in the event if he had been fully fit.
Simon Graf has been a long-time associate of Roger Federer’s, closely observing the Swiss star on his travels worldwide. Graf has also penned a biography on Federer titled "Roger Federer: Phenomenon. Enthusiast. Philanthropist".
With the news of Mirka’s role in her husband’s absence from the Australian Open gathering steam, Simon Graf took to Twitter to refute the reports. Graf pointed out how fitness reasons alone had led to Federer’s decision, and that the 20-time Major champion is likely to return to action in March.
"I hate to destroy the narrative," Graf tweeted. "But Roger Federer would have definitely played at the Australian Open had he been fit to compete at the level he wished for. I am quite optimistic, though, he will play in Dubai mid-March."
Did Roger Federer pull out due to fitness reasons, or was his decision influenced by his family?
Andre Sa had mentioned that he had had a telephonic conversation with Roger Federer back in December. According to Sa, the Swiss had mentioned that Mirka was against the idea of spending two weeks confined to a hotel room.
The Brazilian had also suggested that Federer was unwilling to be away from his family for a long period, which is why he decided to pull out from the Australian Open.
It is difficult to say whether Simon Graf’s version is closer to the truth, or Andre Sa’s. From an outsider's point of view though, Federer’s decision seems likely to have been influenced by both fitness and family-related reasons.
The World No. 5 had mentioned in December that he was yet to reach the desired fitness levels. It is quite possible that the couple of weeks since then weren't enough for him to get to a place where he wanted to be.
At the same time, Mirka’s doubts about Australia’s quarantine measures also hold merit given that her children are still fairly young. Spending 4-6 weeks inside a hotel room would have been a tricky proposition with four children, who enjoy spending time outdoors.
Roger Federer also likely knew that his chances to triumph in Melbourne weren't too high given that he hasn't played competitively in over a year. Add to that his family-related concerns, and it makes perfect sense that the six-time champion made the decision to withdraw from the event.Published 08 Jan 2021, 22:04 IST