Mats Wilander recently claimed that the Laver Cup is the biggest motivating factor for Roger Federer to continue competing on the tour. The Swede believes Federer could keep playing in the team event for 4-5 years more, given how much he enjoys it.
Mats Wilander is a former World No. 1 himself, with seven Grand Slam titles to his name. Like Roger Federer and a few other all-time greats, Wilander won Majors on all three surfaces - grass, hardcourt and clay. But the Swede never triumphed at Wimbledon, with his grasscourt Slams coming at the Australian Open in 1983 and 1984 (before the tournament had shifted to hardcourt).
During the latest episode of the Kickserveradio podcast, Mats Wilander spoke at length about Roger Federer’s future. The 56-year-old stressed that he has never seen Federer enjoying himself while playing a team event as much as he does at the Laver Cup.
"The Laver Cup to me is what is really driving Roger Federer, I’ve never seen him that excited in any team event, certainly not in Davis Cup as he was in Laver Cup," Wilander said.
According to Wilander, the shorter format of the tournament coupled with the fact that Roger Federer has a financial stake in it make the Laver Cup a can't-miss event for the 39-year-old.
"Laver Cup - he knows he can play that for four or five more years," the seven-time Slam champion said. "It's only two sets, champions tiebreaker if it's one set all. He can still play doubles. Obviously he is part of the ownership of the tournament so I think he needs to stay match fit because the way he behaves during Laver Cup, I don’t think he wants to let go of that."
Wilander also believes the Tokyo Olympics isn’t far behind the Laver Cup in Roger Federer’s preference list, considering that the Swiss is yet to win a singles gold at the quadrennial event.
"I think that with Roger Federer in a weird way I think it's Laver Cup and the Olympics," the Swede added. "Of course mustn’t forget the Olympics, he’s never won the gold medal in singles."
Roger Federer can still win the Tokyo Olympics: Mats Wilander
Roger Federer has won a doubles gold medal at the Olympics (Beijing 2008) and a singles silver medal (London 2012), but he has made no secret of his ambition of winning a singles gold.
Mats Wilander believes Federer still has the ability to defeat the top-ranked players in best-of-three-sets matches, which gives him a good chance of clinching the elusive gold in 2021.
"I would always say that in the last 3 or 4 years that I think Tokyo 2020 was gonna be towards the end of his career," Wilander said. "Now, obviously Tokyo is hopefully next year, but I think he can still win that you know. He can still win a 2 out of 3 sets against the best of the world at the Olympics."Published 19 Dec 2020, 18:37 IST