Swiss tennis starlet Belinda Bencic has lamented the withdrawal of compatriot Roger Federer from the Australian Open this year.
Federer issued a statement late last year, saying he won’t play the Australian Open as his fitness and recovery from the knee surgery was still behind schedule.
Doubtlessly one of the top stars in the men’s draw at the year’s first Grand Slam, this is the first time since Federer started playing Majors that he won’t be seen sweeping past opponents at Melbourne Park.
And one only has to visit his glory book to realize just what it means for the organizers to have Federer in the men’s draw at the Australian Open every year and how big a blow it is if he is not there.
The Swiss master has won six of his twenty Grand Slam titles at Melbourne Park, making him one of the tournament’s most iconic faces through the years.
And to lose one of the marquee names, who stands as a veritable giant in men’s tennis, is, perhaps, a blow that cannot be explained, much less quantified, in words.
It also illustrates why Tennis Australia was prepared to give him the luxury of time to decide whether he wanted to travel for the tournament.
While the start date for the year’s first Major was pushed back from the traditional June 19 for reasons other than Federer, the Swiss did say, at an awards night in his homeland, that the delay would give him an additional three-week window to get himself ready for the event.
However, it wasn’t to be in the end as even as his mind was perhaps willing for a swing Down Under, his knees signaled otherwise.
Federer did travel to Dubai, his usual port of call for a pre-season block, but realized that his fitness wasn’t up to speed and won’t help him come out on the right side of tough encounters with top peers.
However, yesteryear doubles great Todd Woodbridge reckoned that it was the quarantine rule and not fitness which may have been behind Federer’s withdrawal from the Australian Open.
Be that as it may, Bencic aptly summed up the mood of the tennis world around his withdrawal, saying the game without her more illustrious peer isn’t quite the same.
“The whole tennis world misses Roger. Tennis without him is always sadder. I think and hope and am very confident that he will come back soon.
At least, he didn’t miss much last year,” said Bencic, who is out of quarantine ahead of the Australian Open.
Federer fans can’t agree more with the 23-year-old’s sentiment and would dearly hope for a Grand Slam return at Wimbledon.