In Depth

Roger Federer will ‘see you on the grass’- but is this the beginning of the end?

Swiss maestro will miss the French Open after undergoing knee surgery

Roger Federer is targeting a return to tennis in the grass-court season after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. 

The 20-time grand slam champion will miss the French Open in Paris in May and June as well as tournaments in Dubai, Indian Wells, Bogota and Miami.

Federer, 38, underwent surgery in Switzerland on Wednesday and he said on Twitter: “My right knee has been bothering me for a little while. 

“I hoped it would go away, but after an examination, and discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery in Switzerland. 

“After the procedure, the doctors confirmed that it was the right thing to have done and are very confident of a full recovery. 

“As a result, I will unfortunately have to miss Dubai, Indian Wells, Bogota, Miami and the French Open. I am grateful for everyone’s support. I can’t wait to be back playing again soon, see you on the grass!”

It’s the fourth time in five years that Federer has missed the clay court grand slam at Roland Garros. Having played in Paris last year he reached the semi-finals, losing in straight sets to rival Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. 

Nadal won his 12th French Open in 2019. Victory this year would see the Spaniard secure his 20th grand slam title - and draw level with Federer

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Fans want a miracle

ATPTour.com reports that Federer also underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in February 2016 and this restricted him to just tournaments that season.

The Guardian’s Kevin Mitchell says doubts over Federer’s future have started to “swirl again” after the announcement “ripped through the tennis community like a hurricane”. 

Mitchell wrote: “From the time Federer posted the news on Twitter, his worldwide audience went into paroxysms of grief, registering more than 10,000 ‘likes’ in half an hour, although there was not much to like. 

“Their concern - and that of the entire industry - is that, at 38, Federer is hurrying towards the last chapter of his remarkable story. For now, Federer is world No.3. To nearly everyone who loves the game, he will always be No.1. They want another miracle.”

Could he retire?

According to a report in Swiss newspaper Aargauer Zeitung, Federer could “seriously consider” retiring following his latest setback. 

Aargauer Zeitung journalist Simon Häring says: “Priorities have shifted further in recent months. Last year he travelled to the French Open for the first time without a family. 

“In preparation for this season, he made compromises by foregoing the ATP Cup. Instead, Federer turned to other interests, travelling through Latin America and China. He invested a ‘big chunk’ in the Swiss running shoe manufacturer ‘On’, met the President of Namibia and raised money for his foundation. 

“It’s not a boring life waiting for Roger Federer after his tennis career. This will also go through his head in the next few days. Especially when the regeneration is not going smoothly.”

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