When this article was being mentally constructed, Roger Federer hadn’t broken the news of his surgery to the world. And by the time you are reading this, things have changed a little. The Swiss has undergone the second surgery of his relatively injury free career, that will see him miss everything until the grass season.
Federer’s first surgery, in 2016, saw him miss the French Open. He did return for Wimbledon, only to go down in the SF to Raonic and then took a 6 month sabbatical before coming back in 2017. We know how things unfolded after that. Federer gathered 3 more majors out of the next 5, and has been on the search for his #21 since then.
A search that will now see him equal the second longest Grand Slam drought of his career. Now the quest for the twenty first, was never easy to begin with, especially with a certain Serbian regaining his mojo and father-time creeping in closer on Federer’s career. It is bound to get tougher now, or at least more unpredictable.
Roger was an ace away last July, from winning The Championships. He had 2 match points on his serve, but was denied, quite incredibly, by Djokovic. He would have joined the elusive list of players who beat two of the Big 3 during the same fortnight of a major, had he won one more point. And many have written off that lost opportunity as probably his last shot at winning a major. But we’ve been here before.
Remember how for a good couple years, social media was flooded with ‘#BELI8VE’? Federer fandom wanted nothing more than just ONE more major from their hero, and like always he gave the world more than what was expected. Three of them. It’s a similar situation again, we just don’t have a famous enough hashtag yet. His fans want ONE more. And the experts don’t really see it happening.
Wimbledon, this year, was again going to be his best shot. It still is. But how badly the surgery would impact his chances, is a question that can only be answered in July. Thanks to the formula they use, Federer should still be seeded in the Top 4 at The Championships this year. His overall ranking may drop to eighth.
For Roger Federer to win his next a lot of things need to fall in place. His health, obviously is the primary concern. His runs at the two previous majors-USO’19 and AO’20-were impacted by injuries. And when he was physically fit enough- Wimbledon’19- he ran into Novak Djokovic. He came close, but close won’t cut it for Roger. He either needs to find a way to beat Novak again at Slams, something he hasn’t done since 2012, or hope someone else does that work for him. Odds for either of these scenarios aren’t in Federer’s favor.
His issues at hardcourt majors- apart from the two obvious ones mentioned above- have been losing half a pace with age, being more susceptible to players outside the Top 10 and the slower pace of the courts. And he also loses quite a bit of steam till the time he reaches NYC, so AO provides him with a better shot as compared to the USO.
So would you bet on Roger Federer winning another major? You shouldn’t. But don’t tell me you thought he’d win at AO 2017 after being ranked #17. He still did. He still can. Chances are slim, ofcourse.
Federer winning his #21 shouldn’t surprise you. Federer ending his career with 20 majors, shouldn’t surprise you either. What should surprise you however is how people collectively write off a champion like him, over and over again, only to be proven wrong. They’ll continue to do so as long as he plays. But hey, you, are smarter than that.
You are smart enough to know that an athlete like Roger knows when he can’t do it anymore. So as long as he shows up with his Wilson bags on the court, he believes, and so can you. His quest for more majors will only end with his career. Until then, put on your favorite highlight reel of his and wait for the grass.