Federer: ‘Some players need a plan for after tennis, but I don’t’

Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer said on Saturday that he is still unsure of what he will do when his playing days are finally up.

Federer: 'Some players need a plan for after tennis, but I don't'
Roger Federer after he won his match against Pierre-Hugues Herbert from France at the ATP tennis tournament. Photo: C Carmen Jaspersen/AFP
Federer, 37, is aiming for a ninth Wimbledon title and a 21st major next month, but admitted that it will soon be time to call time on his glistening career. 
“It's a shame, because I am at the end of my career now, and it has gone by so quickly,” he said after reaching the final of the ATP event in Halle for the 13th time. “That is good sign, though, because it shows that it has been enormous fun.”
“My career has been a blessing. I wouldn't have done anything differently, apart from the mistakes I made when I was younger which we all make.”   
The Swiss veteran said he was still unsure of what he would do when he finally hung up his rackets. 
“My future is open. Some players need a very clear plan of what they will do after tennis, but I don't,” he said. “I want to have flexibility, for my family. There will be plenty of opportunities.”
“I have my foundation, and I have various sponsors who I have been with a long time who will stay with me after my career.”
Federer warned that he may not play too many exhibition matches after his retirement. 
“Of course I want to keep doing things in tennis, and maybe play some exhibition matches or charity matches,” he said. 
“On the other hand, I will have to see how fit I can stay and how fit I want to stay.”
“I will have to see whether I want to play exhibition matches at a low standard,” he laughed.
Federer also said he was planning “six months to a year” ahead for the time being as he looks to continue winning tournaments. 
The Swiss still faces a fight to defend his record number of majors from his rivals. 
Rafael Nadal moved to within just two titles of Federer's mark with his 18th Grand Slam title at the French Open, while Novak Djokovic has 15 majors to his name.
“The main thing is not to get injured, because my health comes first,” said Federer.

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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.