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ROGER FEDERER

Davydenko weighs in on ‘perfect’ Federer

Russia's Nikolay Davydenko said Monday that "perfect" Roger Federer was distancing himself from problems in the men's game, weighing in after Rafael Nadal's surprise broadside against the Swiss.

Davydenko weighs in on 'perfect' Federer
José Goulão

Nadal criticised Federer on the eve of the Australian Open, claiming the 16-time grand slam title winner should be doing more to support growing complaints over the professional tour.

Nadal has long advocated changes to the playing schedule and last year said strike action could not be ruled out. On Sunday, the world number two said Federer, the ATP Player Council president, needs to support his colleagues.

And Davydenko, speaking after his five-set defeat to Flavio Cipolla in the first round on Monday, agreed that Federer was not taking a leading role over the issues at stake.

“I don’t know why Roger doesn’t support players. I don’t know why. Because he doesn’t do any problems. He’s a nice guy,” the Russian said.

“He’s from Switzerland. He’s perfect. He don’t want to do anything. He just tried to be outside from this one,” he added.

“But he was sitting in the (players’) meeting (on Saturday). He just listened to everything and I think Sunday was meeting the top four guys. I don’t know what happened there.”

The Russian, who has slipped to 52 in the world rankings, said it was important for the players to have the backing from the likes of world number one Novak Djokovic and Nadal.

“For sure Federer doesn’t want to do anything because he doesn’t want to make any strike or something. Nadal, Djokovic is with the other players, the top 100 players,” Davydenko said.

Players met new men’s tour chief Brad Drewett in Melbourne on Saturday and are reportedly unhappy over Davis Cup scheduling and their share of prize money at the grand slam tournaments, among other issues.

In his unexpected outburst against long-time rival Federer, Nadal told Spanish media in Melbourne: “It’s easy to say I do not say anything, everything is positive and I stay ‘a gentleman’ while others burn.

“We each have our opinion and perhaps he likes the circuit. I like it too and it is better than the majority of sports. But that does not mean it can’t be better and that things which are bad cannot be changed.”

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ROGER FEDERER

Is this the end of the road for Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer?

Roger Federer is talking optimistically about returning to his "highest level" after knee surgery, but does tennis have to start adjusting to a future without the Swiss star?

Is this the end of the road for Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer?
Is it the end of the line for Roger? Photo: Martin BUREAU / AFP

The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced on Wednesday that he would be sidelined until 2021 after his second operation in a matter of months.

Federer remains upbeat, tweeting: “I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 percent ready to play at my highest level.”

In some ways 2020 is a good season to miss after the coronavirus ravaged the tennis schedule. Writing Federer off in the past has proved dangerous.

He returned from a six-month injury lay-off to claim the Australian Open in 2017, winning his eighth Wimbledon crown later that year.

But he will be 40 in 2021 and is now heading into uncharted territory.

Despite his groaning trophy cabinet, there are two factors that will motivate Federer to keep going — the risk of losing his grip on the men's Grand Slam title record and a missing Olympics singles gold medal.

Rafael Nadal has 19 majors, just one shy of Federer's mark and Djokovic has 17.

Spain's Nadal will be fancied to draw level with Federer at the French Open, rescheduled for September, while few would bet against Djokovic winning in New York weeks earlier.

In April, Federer said he was “devastated” when Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II. Last year he fell agonisingly short at the All England Club, failing to convert two championship points on his own serve against Djokovic.

The Wimbledon grass probably remains his best chance of adding to his Grand Slam collection — he has not won the US Open since 2008 and his only title at Roland Garros came in 2009.

Even though Federer has slipped from the very pinnacle of the game, he is still a major threat to Nadal and Djokovic.

'Golden' ambitions

Last year, the world number four had a 53-10 win-loss record and he reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January in his only tournament this year.

Federer, who is still six ATP titles short of Jimmy Connors' all-time record of 109, has one glaring omission from his CV — the Olympic title.

The Swiss won doubles gold in Beijing in 2008 with compatriot Stan Wawrinka but lost in the singles final to Andy Murray in London four years later.

The postponed Tokyo Games will almost certainly be Federer's last opportunity to complete a career “golden” Grand Slam — he will turn 40 on the day of the closing ceremony next year.

Tennis will feel the loss of the elegant Federer keenly when he walks off the court for the last time.

Djokovic and Nadal have been the dominant forces in recent years but the Swiss remains the biggest draw and last month topped Forbes' list of the world's highest-earning athletes.

His last appearance on court was in front of nearly 52,000 fans — touted by organisers as a world record for tennis — at a charity match against Nadal in Cape Town in February.

Federer is nearly always the crowd favourite wherever he plays and has proved a perfect ambassador for the sport since he won his first Grand Slam title in 2003.

He certainly expects to be back and competitive next year.

“I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of the 2021 season,” he tweeted.

The avalanche of support from his adoring fans showed they would miss him too, but they will have to get used to a time when he is gone for good.

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