Roger Federer has delighted fans after announcing he’s on track to make his return to tennis at the Australian Open in January.
The 20-time grand slam champ says he is practising pain-free after undergoing two knee surgeries this year and says he expects to return to the circuit at Melbourne Park in January.
‘THIRD WHEEL’: Federer and Nadal's massive snub of rival
The 39-year-old Swiss reached the Australian Open semi-finals at the start of the year, but missed the rest of the season after undergoing a second arthroscopic procedure on his right knee.
“I'm on the right track,” Federer told German-language magazine Schweizer Illustrierte on Wednesday.
“I'm gradually coming back but I’m going to take my time and don’t want to put any pressure on myself.
“I will only take part in a tournament when I am 100 per cent fit.
“At the moment, it looks like I can make my comeback at the Australian Open in January.”
While he has made significant progress in his recovery he says he is still not at the point where he can train as normal.
“Not yet, more than two hours with the racket are not possible at the moment,” said Federer, who is currently ranked fourth in the world and saw Rafael Nadal equal his grand slam haul with a 13th French Open title this month.
“But I've been working on my stamina and strength absolutely without pain for a while.
“There will be no further operations.”
Fans flocked to social media to celebrate the good news.
— Monica Robinson (@monicajournal) October 21, 2020
Finally some good news!!
— leticia zarate (@leticiazarate) October 21, 2020
Hope for fast recovery mate .
— VKBobby (@vkbobby1000) October 21, 2020
— ❤💛#20in2020!! 💛❤ (@Vamosgirl1) October 21, 2020
Roger Federer: I’m on track for Australian Open return following knee injury https://t.co/vkb6vTkKN0
— Barbara Read (@BarbaraRead60) October 21, 2020
Federer is often asked about his retirement plans but the Swiss said he would keep playing as long as he was enjoying it.
“I have been thinking about ideas for about five years,” he said.
“But as long as I am having fun and it’s right for all of us, I'll keep going.”
Novak Djokovic pulls out of Paris Masters
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic said on Wednesday that he will not defend his Paris Masters title because he cannot gain any ranking points if he plays.
The World No.1 told Serbian daily Sportski Zurnal that due to the revised ranking system created amid the coronavirus pandemic he could not win any additional ranking points at next month’s ATP event in the French capital.
Djokovic said his main priority is to remain first in the rankings until at least March 8 next year to break Federer’s record for most weeks in the ATP's top spot.
Rankings are calculated by the players’ best results between March 2019 and December this year.
Djokovic collected 1000 points by winning in Paris last year and so cannot add to his total by playing there.
“I won't play the Masters in Paris as I can’t win new points there. But I will go to Vienna and London”, Djokovic said.
“I didn't play in Vienna last year and I can win up to 500 points there. There are lot of points to be won in London as well.”
Djokovic, 33, who lost the French Open final to Nadal earlier this month, is training in Belgrade.
He said he has to keep an eye on Nadal and Dominic Thiem, the two men closest to him in the rankings.
“It depends also on Nadal and Thiem’s score until the end of this year, and also on following Australian Open, but I am in a good position,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic is almost 2000 points ahead of second best Nadal, but the Spaniard demolished the 17-time grand slam winner aside 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the Roland Garros final.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.