Roger Federer faces Novak Djokovic dilemma ahead of Wimbledon comeback
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Roger Federer could be powerless to stop Novak Djokovic from overtaking his impressive tally of 20 Grand Slam titles as a result of the Swiss star’s injury problems, according to former Wimbledon women’s singles champion Marion Bartoli. Federer missed the vast majority of last year’s action after undergoing two knee surgeries, dropping to sixth in the ATP world rankings as an unwelcome consequence.
The 39-year-old made his return to the court at the Qatar Open earlier this month, narrowly defeating British No 1 and training partner Dan Evans in his first match.
He then squandered an early lead to fall at the hands of eventual champion Nikoloz Basilashvili at the quarter-final stage.
Following the result, Federer swiftly pulled out of the Dubai Tennis Championships and the Miami Open in order to return to training ahead of a Grand Slam comeback.
He is aiming to feature at Wimbledon later this year, a tournament he has won on eight previous occasions.
During his lengthy absence from the circuit, Djokovic established a stronghold on the ATP rankings and broke the Swiss veteran’s record of 305 weeks as world No 1 after winning the Australian Open in February.
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Bartoli, who won eight WTA singles titles during her professional career, has claimed that although Federer will be hoping to ward off the threat of Djokovic for as long as possible, he is unlikely to risk further injury in order to stay ahead because he has nothing left to prove.
“I think he wants to stay at the top of the Grand Slam category especially, I think that counts a lot,” Bartoli told the Match Points podcast.
“Of course, he was the first to get to 20 [titles], and he wants to stay at the top of the pyramid.
“Djokovic already beat his record of weeks at world No 1 and I don’t think he wants to lose all his records. But, of course you have to take into consideration his health.
“He’s probably not going to put his body on the line just based on one record, he has achieved enough. But, is the record somewhere in his mind? I truly think so.”
Federer has also announced his intention to compete at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, with the veteran eager to take his final opportunity to win an eagerly-awaited gold medal.
He came out on top in the doubles category in 2008 alongside compatriot Stan Wawrinka, but the absence of a singles title is the only stain on his otherwise glittering record.
However, Bartoli suggested that while he is keen to finally achieve Olympic glory, his main priority is to win at Wimbledon in order to secure an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title.
“I think he was there [at the Qatar Open] to just evaluate where he was, what was missing in his game,” added Bartoli.
“I think he made the assessment pretty early on, probably during his first match [against Evans], that he needed more fitness.
“That’s probably why he’s added a number of matches and a number of clay tournaments to his schedule especially, because he really wants to win Wimbledon.
“That’s his major priority for this year, and of course after that the Olympics.”
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