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Roger Federer streams live session, discusses future plans for 2017 and beyond

Federer was practicing with French ace Lucas Pouille in Dubai.

News 22 Dec 2016, 18:44 IST
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 08:  Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand during the Men's Singles Semi Final match against Milos Raonic of Canada on day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 8, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Federer live-streamed his practice session in Dubai, hitting with Lucas Pouille

Seventeen-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer has been out of action for much of the 2016 season, having struggled this year with an old knee injury that has recurred significantly. Following his mammoth semi-final finish at Wimbledon, Federer took the remainder of the season off, announcing that he would be focusing on rehabilitation and recovery to be better prepared for 2017. 

Having participated in on-and-off practice sessions since, most of them in his home country of Switzerland, Federer in November returned to full-time practice, shifting base from Switzerland to Dubai, where he usually practices. 

Live streaming a practice session from Dubai, Federer participated in a lengthy question-and-answer session with fans who were curious about his return in the 2017 season. 

Federer spent the practice session hitting with French sensation Lucas Pouille.

22-year-old Pouille, who has ascended rapidly up the ATP rankings this year to finish the year at 15th, has had his career-best season so far, defeating Rafael Nadal at the US Open to make his best-ever Grand Slam finish; the Frenchman ended his run at the quarter-finals of the US Open this season. 

Looking to be back in usual form, Federer spoke at length about his 2017 return. “I will be back for the Hopman Cup,” he said, speaking of the team tennis tournament in Perth, Australia in early January. 

Having partnered Martina Hingis at the tournament in 2000, Federer will return to play this time with former WTA top 10 Belinda Bencic, who in 2016 has had somewhat of a dry season, and was forced to pull out of the Olympic Games as a result. 

The Swiss told fans he was looking forward to the Australian Open, where he finished at the semi-finals this year, losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. He appeared to have completely healed from his previous knee injuries, hitting his signature crisp shots with relative ease. 

Given Federer’s injury struggles, which have been exacerbated in recent years, it is understandable that the Swiss, who won his 17th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2012, would choose to play a limited number of tournament. Expounding on this, Federer told fans in the day’s session that he was “unsure of the clay court season” this year; he withdrew from the French Open this year citing that he was “not 100% fit.”

Despite this, however, the Swiss reassured fans that he would “definitely be playing” the Indian Wells and Miami ATP Masters tournaments, meaning that he would likely be in for most of the hard-court season. 

What’s in the future?

Several fans asked Federer about his plans for the 2018 season. The Swiss Maestro has said in the past he is not currently considering retirement, and that his hiatus was primarily focused on recovering well enough to “have another few years of good tennis,” but said that he had made “no plans for 2018 yet, I am not thinking about it.”

Addressing some of the trials tennis players face on tour, Federer revealed that regular exercise, healthy food and a “more than adequate amount of sleep” were integral factors in overall fitness, but his schedule did not always permit it, and it was “not always easy” to accommodate those factors into his lifestyle as much as he would like to. 

Rejecting calls to write an autobiography, Federer also revealed that he “might or might not” look at coaching in the future. 

Many have humorously described Federer’s two pairs of twins as his “future doubles teams,” and in the session today, Federer revealed that while all his children played tennis, the younger pair – boys Leo and Lennart – loved the game, while his daughters Myla and Charlene ‘liked’ it. “They won’t be playing 8 hours a day now, for sure,” he said. 

He has beat both pair on court at Grand Slams, but Federer said he would “lose miserably” to both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at arm wrestling. 

At 35, and despite recent injuries, Federer has still has some incredibly powerful high finishes at Grand Slams. Should he choose to play only a handful of tournaments each year it is entirely plausible the Swiss can go on for a number of years, but he has also mentioned looking to spend time with his family.

“Obviously, I won’t be playing professional tennis as a career for the rest of my life,” he said, but declined to elaborate on whether he would get into coaching in the future.”

Fans also asked Federer repeatedly about an ‘18th Grand Slam’, with Federer saying “that is the dream, although I don’t know how easy it will be. There are a lot of new, young guys and they are all very good, very powerful, it will be difficult but I want to do it.” 

Among those players was Federer’s opponent today, Lucas Pouille. Federer also faced – and lost to 19-year-old German talent Alexander Zverev, who a significant part of the tennis community has described definitively as a “future No. 1.” The teenager won his first ever ATP Tour level title this year, taking top honours at St. Petersburg. Adding to the strength of that victory, which saw Zverev join an elite list of ATP players who won titles as teenagers, the German beat three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, fresh off his US Open victory this year, for that win. 

Zverev this year beat Federer on the Swiss’ strongest surface – grass – at the semi-finals of the ATP500 Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, leaving his idol impressed by his work. 

American teen Taylor Fritz has also made waves on the tennis radar, making 2016 one of the strongest years for young talent in recent years. 

Federer closed the chat with a talk about the Roger Federer foundation, which works to raise funds for children in underprivileged nations. The foundation hosts yearly charity matches, and the 2017 edition, which is scheduled to take place in Zurich, Switzerland in the first half of 2017, will feature Roger Federer against current World No. 1 Andy Murray. 

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