ATP Finals & WTA Finals 2021

Roger hopes for mid 2022 return

While Federer recovers from ops, Djokovic continues hunt to level Swiss' Finals record

MELBOURNE • Roger Federer will miss the Australian Open in January and is unlikely to return to competition until mid next year as he recovers from multiple knee surgeries, the former world No. 1 said.

Federer, 40, also told Swiss media that he would be "extremely surprised" to be ready for Wimbledon in July, a Grand Slam he has won a record eight times with his last title coming in 2017.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion is hopeful he would be able to resume running in January and return to court training in March or April, meaning that he is also likely to miss the French Open in May.

"I need to be very patient and give my knee the time to heal. The next few months will be crucial," the Swiss said yesterday.

"Which is to say that Australia does not even come into play."

His coach Ivan Ljubicic said earlier this week that he was unlikely to play at Melbourne Park as he was not going to be at 100 per cent.

Federer had two knee operations last year and he returned to action in March but played only 13 matches this year.

He withdrew from the French Open in June after winning his third-round match to save himself for Wimbledon but fell in the quarter-finals at the grass-court Slam before his 40th birthday.

Another injury forced him to skip the US Open as he went under the knife again and he said doctors also fixed cartilage in his knee.

He has not won a Slam since his 2018 Australian Open title but he is still holding out for a "miracle".

"My life is not going to collapse if I don't play a Grand Slam final again. But it would be the ultimate dream to go back. And in fact, I still believe in it. I believe in these kinds of miracles," he added.

Federer is absent at this week's ATP Finals, where world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is bidding to equal his record of six titles.

The Serb advanced to the last four of the season-ending event with a 6-3, 6-2 win over fifth seed Andrey Rublev in Turin yesterday.

"I knew that I had to be on my toes and start well," said the 34-year-old, who recorded his 50th victory this year.

"It was quite a nervous start from both of us until 4-3, then with new balls I managed to find the right shots at the right time.

"Winning the first set I put additional pressure on him, and I started to play more consistently from the back of the court. I served well, that helped tremendously. It was a great performance overall."

Djokovic tops the Green Group with two wins and will face British world No. 12 Cameron Norrie in his last group match tomorrow. Norrie is a replacement for Stefanos Tsitsipas, who withdrew yesterday with an elbow injury he had been carrying since retiring from this month's Paris Masters.

The withdrawal follows that of Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday after the Italian suffered an abdominal injury in his opening match against Germany's Alexander Zverev. He was replaced by compatriot Jannik Sinner.

In Mexico, Garbine Muguruza saw off fellow Spaniard Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-3 and Anett Kontaveit outlasted Maria Sakkari 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 on Tuesday to punch their tickets to the WTA Finals championship match in Guadalajara.

Muguruza is making her fourth appearance at the Finals and her first in the championship match, while the eighth-seeded Kontaveit will be playing in the biggest match of her career.



Day 5: Doubles (6.30pm & tomorrow, 1.30am) & singles (9pm & tomorrow, 4am) - StarHub Ch211


Day 8: Finals, doubles (7am) & singles (9.30am) - StarHub Ch201

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2021, with the headline Roger hopes for mid 2022 return. Subscribe