When Roger Federer plays at next year’s Australian Open - assuming it takes place - he will have made a return after precisely 11 months away from the tour. Given that the Swiss legend will be well beyond 39 years of age by that time, many are questioning whether Federer contend for the big titles in his comeback.
Tim Henman on his part believes that Roger Federer will endure a difficult time upon his return but will fight hard to protect his status quo in the sport's upper echelons.
"He's not someone who wants to be out there making up the numbers. He wants to be competing and trying to win the biggest tournaments,” Henman asserted.
The Brit, while speaking on RadioTimes, also pointed out that Federer’s 11-month long hiatus was a rather long one - especially given his current age. Henman believes that such a lengthy absence would only make things trickier for Roger Federer once he returns.
"I wouldn't call this a short break,” Henman said. "He's going to have been out for 11 months, and as you get older, coming back from big breaks away from the game doesn't get any easier.”
Some are suggesting Roger Federer's skills and experience will ensure he can work his way back on the tour, much like he did in 2017. The current World No. 5 won the Australian Open and Wimbledon that year despite missing nearly half of 2016 due to injury.
Tim Henman noted that Federer’s overall quality would certainly give him something to work with. The Brit also expressed his excitement at the prospect of watching an almost 40-year-old Roger Federer locking horns with the other big guns in men’s tennis.
"But he has the experience, the knowledge and the ability around his game,” Henman continued. “It will be interesting to see how he is. We all know it doesn't get any easier as you get older. He's going into his 40th year, and the competition is as strong as it has ever been, so it will be fascinating to watch.”
Novak Djokovic has many more years left than Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal: Tim Henman
While Roger Federer is 39 years of age, his fiercest rival Rafael Nadal is a full five years younger at 34. And the man that most people think will break all the relevant records in the sport, Novak Djokovic, is 33 years old.
Basic math would suggest that the Serb has the most years left on the tour out of the three. However, injuries can derail a player’s career at any moment, making longevity an unpredictable element.
But Tim Henman believes that the World No. 1 isn’t likely to be hampered by physical ailments, given how his style of play is not very taxing on the body. The Brit firmly believes that Novak Djokovic will outlast both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the tour.
"Physically, he's in such good shape, and I think his game doesn't take so much out of his body,” Henman said. “Certainly, in Novak's case, he has many more years.”Published 12 Nov 2020, 22:30 IST