Will injured Roger Federer ever win another Grand Slam?
It looks as if time is catching up with the Swiss tennis star as he pulls out of another tournament
Tennis star Roger Federer has pulled out of the Madrid Open tournament with a back injury, disrupting his preparations for the French Open later this month and raising questions over whether he will ever win another Grand Slam.
The 34-year-old Swiss announced his withdrawal on Monday, just weeks after returning to action following knee surgery. He missed the Miami Open in March with a stomach virus and has played in only three tournaments this year.
Could the latest setback be the beginning of the end for the world number three?
"Advancing age and its effects are not subjects Roger Federer readily discusses but, three months shy of his 35th birthday, it was difficult not to draw a connection with his latest 11th-hour withdrawal from a Masters series tournament," says The Times.
It does not bode well for his prospects in Paris and beyond, says the Daily Telegraph. "This is uncharted territory for the normally injury-proof Federer, who has not missed a grand slam event since turning professional, and is a major worry going into the French Open," writes Charlie Eccleshare. "Realistically there's no way Federer can win at Roland Garros unless he is at absolute peak fitness, and it's clear he's a long way from that."
Federer's injury problems add to a growing list of factors that suggest he may not add to his 17 Grand Slam titles. He is struggling physically while the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic scale new heights of physical endurance to keep their younger rivals at bay. His old rival, Rafa Nadal, is also returning to form after his own injury woes.
"The reality is that the exertion of winning 21 sets against the immense physical specimens that populate the ATP Tour will likely prove beyond even this most durable of 34-year-olds," he says.
Federer has not won a Grand Slam since 2012 and has lost four out of five finals since winning the Australian Open in 2010.
Paradoxically, though, he could find himself leapfrogging Murray in the rankings if the Scot fails at Madrid. "The world rankings are based on a rolling total of points won over the previous 12 months," says The Independent. "With their 2015 points from Madrid and Rome stripped out, Federer would be 90 points ahead of Murray in the rankings."
That could leave Federer as the number two seed at Roland Garros, greatly increasing his chances of proving the obituary writers wrong yet again.