Federer Faces Big Reality Check in Comeback
Mats Wilander believes Roger Federer is committed to the comeback cause—but cautions the Swiss superstar faces a severe reality check.
In an interview with Eurosport, Wilander said Federer can draw on his experiences navigating successful comebacks in the past and a positive perspective to fuel his return.
“I think it’s possible for him to come back,” Wilander told Eurosport. “I think if he keeps saying it himself, he obviously has his mind set on coming back.
“He doesn’t get tired. He knows how to listen to his body, but it’s getting more and more difficult.”
Hall of Famer Wilander, who won Grand Slam titles on clay, grass and hard court, sees Federer facing reality checks in a couple of areas.
First, how will the 40-year-old Swiss superstar’s body hold up after a fourth knee surgery and what could be as long as a year layoff given Federer’s recent remarks that he’s aiming to comeback in the second half of 2022.
The second stumbling block: How will Federer, whose serve is based on precision and variety, stack up against explosive 6’6″ power servers aiming for No. 1 including US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and Olympic gold-medal champion Alexander Zverev?
“I think the bigger problem to me is that these guys are getting really, really good,” Wilander told Eurosport. ” Zverev and Medvedev are the guys pushing behind, they are playing huge games of tennis. And of course, Federer has his serve but how big a weapon is a Roger Federer serve compared to let’s say a Zverev or Medvedev serve. I think that’s going to be the reality check.”
Earlier this month, Federer told Swiss publication Le Matin he won’t be competing in Melbourne as he continues recovery from his surgically-repaired right knee.
“I need to be very patient and give my knee the time to heal. The next few months will be crucial,” said Federer, who has undergone a total of four knee surgeries that have limited him to 19 matches over the past two seasons.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion said patience is a prerequisite for a 2022 comeback. Federer said he hopes to resume running in January and aims to return to the practice court next spring.
“I want to see one last time if I am able to play tennis professionally,” Federer told Le Matin.
Wilander suggests Federer is both curious and excited by the unknown: Can a 40-year-old icon (or 41 by the time he comes back) compete and beat champions 15 years his junior?
“He realizes that he does still have a chance to win – maybe not a Grand Slam, maybe not a final – but three or four matches,” Wilander said. “I think it’s worth it for him to come back in his own mind.
“I’m sure Roger is curious to find out if it can be done at 41. I don’t think he will know until he steps on court for at least a two or three set match against the likes of Zverev and Medvedev.”
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