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Cahill: Federer May Make Comeback at Australian Open

The Happy Slam may host a major Maestro return.

Australian Open insiders are "pretty sure" Roger Federer will return from knee surgery at the 2022 Australian Open, coach and ESPN analyst Darren Cahill was quoted as revealing on Australian media.

More: Djokovic Drives Into Paris Semifinals

The 40-year-old Swiss has not played a match since his straight-sets Wimbledon quarterfinal loss to Hubert Hurkacz last July.

Last August, Federer announced he was undergoing another knee surgery and expected to be out "many, many months."

However, the 20-time Grand Slam champion's timetable for return seemed to accelerate as a month later Federer told Swiss media he was pleased with the progress he was making during rehab.

“The worst is behind me,” Federer told Swiss channel SFR Sport. “I'm looking forward to everything that is to come. When you come back after an injury, every day that goes by feels better than the last. It's an emotional moment.”

Federer has undergone four knee surgeries, including one surgery on his left knee in 2016 and three on his right knee: in February and May of 2020, and again last August.

The former world No. 1 told Eurosport in September he was feeling stronger.

“I'm feeling actually really good, considering you know, that things are not as I hoped they would be, but I'm recovering well and the rehab is going really good I must say,” Federer said, according to EuroSport. “I've had no setbacks. Every day is a better day. I'm feeling strong and excited for what's to come.”

The Australian Open starts on January 17th.

Tennis Express

Suggestions Federer could return for the 2022 Australian Open add further intrigue to the race for the all-time men's major mark currently shared by Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at 20 Grand Slam titles apiece.

The 35-year-old Nadal announced he is in training after recovering from a foot injury and plans to play Abu Dhabi next month followed by the Australian Open.

Meanwhile, nine-time AO champion Djokovic has repeatedly said he's undecided about playing Melbourne and will not make a final decision until the tournament announces its Coronavirus safety protocols. Djokovic, who declined to share if he's vaccinated, has previously said he opposes tournaments mandating vaccination for players.

There have been reports coming out of Australia that the Australian government will require players to be fully vaccinated in order to enter the country and play the 2022 AO. 

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve