Roger Federer shocked his fans at the 2021 French Open on June 6. Barely three matches after his return to competitive tennis and shortly after beating Germany’s Dominik Koepfer, the Swiss athlete announced his voluntary exit from the tournament. Federer said the withdrawal would give his body time to heal ahead of Wimbledon. Now three rounds deep into the British tournament, the 39-year-old is spurring additional whispers of a forthcoming retirement.
A wave of injuries hinders the latter part of Roger Federer’s illustrious tennis career
Federer is arguably the best male tennis player of all time, defensively. The maestro has managed to win more than 20 Grand Slam Championship titles in his 20-year career. This ranks him as one of the 10 highest-paid athletes in the world. Just last year, Federer raked in $90 million dollars. However, he could make some of his last appearances on the court as injuries take their toll.
The soon-to-be 40-year-old has had a tumultuous past 18 months, as he battled a recurring knee injury. As the world battled the chaos of the pandemic, Federer experienced two knee surgeries and five weeks on crutches. While speaking to Leman Bleu television recently, the 8-time Wimbledon champion described the past year as “ultra-long” for him.
His French Open win against Koepfer, which lasted for 43 more minutes past midnight, was his third best-of-five-sets win of the week. It was a notable improvement, seeing as the injuries have affected his performance significantly. In March, after returning to the ATP tour, he suffered a setback in Doha during his second match. He has also had to make early exits in Geneva and Halle as he struggled to find his best form.
Federer is prioritizing health over everything
Federer, while sharing his road to recovery, admitted that he finds it difficult to stop playing at once. However, he insisted that he was listening to his body to know an appropriate time for him to push himself. He expressed his fears of pushing himself too quickly before his body fully recovers. This was the principal reason behind his withdrawal from the French Open.
It was a decision that former world tennis champion Andy Murray backed. Murray argued that tennis players deserve sufficient time to build up their fitness after an injury. He compared this to the same process as athletes in other major sports like basketball and football.
While speaking at a press conference just a day after he had defeated Koepfer, Federer said that he was even surprised by his performance at the tournament. This was because he had not dedicated a lot of time to training for prolonged matches since his knee surgeries, as he disclosed. The match with Koepfer was his longest since his victory over John Milliman in the 2020 Australian Open, which lasted just a few minutes over four hours.
Last dance for Federer?
Tennis fans all over the globe have suspected that Federer is on the verge of retirement, judging from the hints he has been dropping recently. While he is yet to put a date on hanging up his racquet, it is something that he must mull over. Federer has previously admitted that his plans extend up to Wimbledon, and nothing further. Many media sources, including GQ, predict a retirement after the tournament.
That being said, the Swiss athlete has been giving it his all through the first three rounds of Wimbledon 2021. He’s cruised to a trio of victories and doesn’t seem too worried about his body so far. “It’s not the most important to feel your absolute best in the first and second round,” he told ESPN. “You just don’t want to go out.”
Despite already indicating that it might be his last tournament, Federer’s fans hope he goes for a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The Swiss athlete is listed as a participant for the international event, but Federer told Forbes that he wants to wait until after Wimbledon to make a final decision. For now, it remains to be seen how he will end his decorated career.