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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, December 13, 2020

Roger Federer

Six-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer rules himself out of the 2021 AO as he continues recovery from a pair of right knee surgeries.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

Roger Federer's wondrous 21-year Melbourne run is likely done.

Continuing recovery from a pair of surgeries to his right knee, Federer suggested he probably won't play the 2021 Australian Open saying "it will be tight for the Australian Open."

The 39-year-old Federer made the announcement at the Swiss Sports Awards in Zurich.

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The 20-time Grand Slam champion said his surgically-repaired right knee is not yet ready for the rigors of Grand Slam play.

"I'd love to be in Australia, but it'll be very fair to my knee," Federer said. "I had hoped to be 100 percent of my means as early as October, but unfortunately this was not the case and it is still not the case today. I don't want to take the next step until I'm ready. I won't play again until I feel 100 percent...

"My goals are in the summer, with Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open."

The Australian Open, originally scheduled for January 18th, is expected to be moved back to February 8th, which would give the former world No. 1 more time to recover.

"Let's see how the next two months unfold," Federer said. "It’s a race against time. I’m curious to see whether it will start on February 8th.

"Of course, it would help if I had a bit more time."

Federer underwent an initital right knee surgery last February then had a second surgery on the same knee last June.

The Swiss superstar called his next three months of rehab "crucial" to his 2021 season, which he hopes will feature at least two Grand Slam appearances. Though given his age and the fact he hasn't played since an Australian Open semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic, Federer is proceeding with caution.

"I hope I will return to the courts in 2021. We'll see, but if my career were to end there, it would be amazing to end it with this award." Federer at the Swiss Sports Awards.

"I wish I was ahead of my schedule, but I'm still happy to be where I'm at right now. The operation in June was a real blow. But since that [surgery], I feel I have come a long way. I'll give myself more time before I decide. The next three months are going to be crucial for me."

The decision ends Federer's streak of 21 consecutive Australian Open appearances and means the father of two sets of twins won't be spending a 14-day quarantine down under.

A six-time Australian Open champion, Federer won his last major championship at the
2018 Melbourne major.

Contesting his record 30th Grand Slam final, Federer soared through 12 of the final 13 points conquering Marin Cilic, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, to successfully defend his Australian Open title and capture his 20th Grand Slam championship.

At the age of 36 years, 173 days, Federer was the second-oldest man to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era after Ken Rosewall, who won the 1972 Australian Open at age 37. 

The man who dubbed the AO the Happy Slam turned in a heroic effort at the 2020 Australian Open in January.

Two points from elimination, Federer unleashed the gladiator within streaking through six straight points in subduing John Millman 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(8) in an epic Australian Open thriller that spanned four hours, three minutes.

It was an exhilarating escape act from Federer, who attained a major milestone earning his 100th career Australian Open triumph. Federer is the first player—man or woman—to achieve century club status at two Grand Slams surpassing 100 wins at Wimbledon as well.

In the quarterfinals, Federer pulled off a Melbourne miracle saving seven match points seven match points in an  improbable 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-3 victory over Tennys Sandgren.

The comeback sent Federer into his record-extending 15th Australian Open semifinal and if 2020 proves to be his AO curtain call it was quite an inspired exit.

As Federer said following his semifinal loss to Djokovic, his desire to play remains strong though advancing age is an unbeatable opponent.

"You never know what the future holds," Federer said. "But especially my age, you don't know. I'm confident. I'm happy how I'm feeling, to be honest. I got through a good, nice training block. No plans to retire."


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