Roger Federer recently cast doubt on his participation at the upcoming Australian Open, claiming it would be a tight race for him to be ready in time. Federer's comments sparked furious discussions in the tennis community, with some even suggesting he would retire soon. However, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has now put to rest some of those fears by confirming that the Swiss has at least completed the formality of entering his name for the year's first Major.
Roger Federer, who has been away from tennis action since February, is scheduled to make his comeback at the 2021 Australian Open - where he will be joined by arch-rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. While Federer's recovery from double knee surgery hasn't gone as quickly as hoped, Tiley believes that the delayed start of the Australian Open will help ensure the 39-year-old's participation.
"Every player, including Roger Federer, has made a commitment to travel to Melbourne to play," Tiley said while officially announcing the new dates of the tournament (8 to 21 February).
"We have been in touch with him (Roger Federer) and his team and it's been three days now, he's hit for the first time in Dubai," Tiley added. "He's in his normal pre-season training routine. He did say to us that February 8 was a more suitable date for him in terms of preparing for the Australian Open."
Will depend on how Roger Federer's knees respond to these operations in 2 or 3 weeks: Craig Tiley
Craig Tiley also aired a word of caution around the whole situation, asserting that Roger Federer's knee will be have to be at 100% for him to consider playing the Australian Open.
"But that will depend a lot on how his knee responds to these operations in the next two or three weeks," Tiley added.
The CEO of Tennis Australia also informed media personnel of the decision to slash the crowd attendance down by 50% amid strict COVID-19 protocols in the country. While these new developments wouldn't necessarily influence Roger Federer's decision of going to Melbourne, the Swiss maestro could be apprehensive of the strict quarantine requirement upon arriving in Melbourne.
A six-time Australian Open champion, Federer seems to be in two minds about whether to return to action in Melbourne or to sit out the year's first Major. Some believe Federer may be better off delaying his comeback, but Craig Tiley would certainly hope the Swiss makes the trip to Melbourne given his enormous drawing power.Published 20 Dec 2020, 14:13 IST