Six-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer has withdrawn from the 2021 Australian Open and is now targeting a comeback to the tennis circuit in late February, his manager Tony Godsick has confirmed.
The 39-year-old Roger Federer has been training in Dubai during the off-season in recent weeks after undergoing two surgeries on his right knee - one in February and the other in June. The Swiss legend has not played on the tour since the 2020 edition of the Australian Open, and had recently said it would be a race against the clock to get fit for the first Major of the 2021 calendar.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Open has been pushed back by three weeks to 8 February - which had seemed like enough time for Federer to get ready for it. But the latest news has dampened the hopes of millions of Federer fans across the world.
"Roger Federer has decided not to play the 2021 Australian Open," Godsick said in a statement released to the AP. "He has made strong progress in the last couple of months with his knee and his fitness. However, after consultation with his team, he decided that the best decision for him in the long run is to return to competitive tennis after the Australian Open."
"I will start discussions this coming week for tournaments that begin in late February and then start to build a schedule for the rest of the year," Godsick added.
Look forward to seeing Roger Federer in Melbourne in 2022: Craig Tiley
Craig Tiley, the Tournament Director of the Australian Open, has also released a statement on Federer's withdrawal. Tiley wished the Swiss superstar good luck for his comeback and expressed hope about seeing him in Melbourne for the 2022 edition of the tournament.
“In the end Roger Federer ran out of time to get himself ready for the rigors of a Grand Slam and he’s very disappointed he won’t be coming to Melbourne in 2021," Tiley stated.
“The Australian Open has always held a special place in his heart – remember it was Roger who first called the AO the ‘happy slam’. We wish him all the best as he prepares for his comeback later in the year and look forward to seeing him in Melbourne in 2022,” he added.
Federer's coach Ivan Ljubicic had hinted in a recent interview that the World No. 5 would only return to the circuit when he was 100% ready. Ljubicic had also suggested Federer's focus would be on the second half of the calendar, with Wimbledon as his top priority, and that seems to be the Swiss' agenda for now.Published 28 Dec 2020, 10:59 IST