Roger Federer ‘impossible to read’ as tennis icon drops retirement hint

Roger Federer 'not the player he was' says Rupert Bell

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Roger Federer has been branded “hard to read” by a former Wimbledon champion as retirement rumours continue to circulate. The Swiss tennis star dropped another hint on the looming end of his career as he admitted “everything is uncertain” after suffering a new setback with his ongoing knee injury. The world No 9 underwent two knee surgeries last year and has only played five tournaments since, most recently being knocked out of the Wimbledon quarter-finals as Hubert Hurkacz handed him just his second bagel set since 2000.

Federer’s career has been in doubt over the past year after he was forced to shut down his 2020 season after the Australian Open.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion announced he would be undergoing knee surgery and taking the rest of the year off, before the tour was suspended for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic, and later had a second operation.

Having played just a handful of tournaments since making a comeback this year, speculation over his retirement has increased as he has suffered a number of losses in matches many expected him to win.

Former world No 1 Federer announced after Wimbledon that he had suffered a new setback with the ongoing injury and would be pulling out of the Olympics, hoping to return later in the summer, but has thrown his comeback further into doubt by pulling out of the Toronto and Cincinnati Masters events, admitting that everything is now “uncertain”.

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Speaking to Blick, he said: “[The knee] works. I was on holiday. I haven’t done anything for a long time because of my knee. After Wimbledon, I had to let everything sink in first. This week I’ll meet my doctors and my team and then we’ll see what happens next. At the moment everything is still a little uncertain.”

Federer admitted that dealing with the unknown was “tough”, adding: “Earlier it was different. The questions were simple: What is my ranking? What’s my next tournament?

“Today it’s trickier: how would I feel if I started exercising again? What can I achieve? What are my goals? How do I get everything under one roof with the family? What does the rest of the team say? Today I am much more astute than before, the attitude is different. It’s really completely different from ten years ago.”

With the road to recovery a lot more difficult than it was even when 103-time title winner took the rest of the season off after a loss in the Wimbledon 2016 semi-finals, having also injured his knee then, there are fears he could retire before he is ready if his body decides not to co-operate.

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With Federer now a doubt to make the upcoming US Open, which starts in just two weeks, 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has had her say on how she thinks the rest of his career will play out.

The 36-year-old admitted that the tennis ace is “impossible to read” as speculation over his comeback is rife.

Speaking on an episode of Match Points, she said: “I’ve learned something about Roger: it’s impossible to read his mind; impossible. You can listen to all of his press conferences, read [articles about him] You can think something and the opposite will happen.

“I think only he knows what he really wants and how he wants to end his career. I believe he wants to end on a high and on something that makes him happy.”

As well as Wimbledon, where he is an eight-time champion and won his first Grand Slam title in 2002, the Swiss Indoors event in Basel has been the tournament many cite as a potential farewell for the man often labelled the GOAT.

Federer was born in the Swiss city and was even a ball boy at the tournament years before playing it.

The home favourite has won ten titles at the ATP 500 event but the 2021 edition has already been cancelled due to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

While retirement isn’t something his fans will want to think about, if Basel is a contender for his last ever tournament then the he can’t retire there until the end of 2022 should at least offer them some comfort that he could be around for another year.

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