Roger Federer's coach Ivan Ljubicic recently claimed that the Swiss is unlikely to feature in the 2022 Australian Open as he is "still recovering" from a third knee surgery. Ljubicic also stressed that Federer wants to be 100% fit before he returns to the court, and that he will only play if he believes he can contend for the title.
Roger Federer underwent a third surgery in 18 months after aggravating his knee issue at Wimbledon in July. The 20-time Major champion had had two operations on the same knee in 2020 - after playing his only event of the season at the Australian Open.
Upon his return to competition at Doha in March, Federer struggled to maintain his fitness. The Swiss featured in just five tournaments during the season before his Wimbledon setback.
In a conversation with Stats Perform, as reported by Eurosport, Ivan Ljubicic asserted that the 40-year-old playing the year's first Grand Slam in 2022 does not seem realistic.
"I think there are very few chances [Federer will play in Australia in January]," Ljubicic said. "He is still recovering, and knowing him, he wants to be sure he can play to win the tournament and be at 100%."
Ljubicic also explained that Federer will need to be patient, as his body will take longer to recover from injury than it did earlier in his career.
"So I think the Australian Open is not a real possibility right now," Ljubicic added. "But he will go step by step because he is 40 years old now and he needs to be patient. He cannot recover as quickly as he used to."
"When Roger Federer decides to stop he will retire, but I don’t think it’s going to happen all of a sudden" - Ivan Ljubicic
During the interview, Ivan Ljubicic also revealed he is confident Roger Federer will return to competive action eventually. The former World No. 3 doesn't believe Federer will announce his retirement out of the blue.
Ljubicic also said he "can guarantee" the Swiss still wants to compete on the tour.
"We have spoken and I can guarantee he wants to return to playing tennis," Ljubicic continued. "When he decides to stop he will retire, but I don’t think it’s going to happen all of a sudden."
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Roger Federer is tied with rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on the men's record of 20 Major singles titles. The current World No. 16 won his most recent Grand Slam title at the 2018 Australian Open, at the age of 36.