Commentator and tennis legend Jim Courier says Roger Federer may have to consider making a massive change to his game if he hopes to make a successful impact on his return from multiple knee surgeries.
Federer was forced to pull out of the Australian Open after confirming at the end of 2020 that he hadn't recovered quickly enough from his latest operation to give himself a chance to compete at Melbourne Park.
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The Swiss maestro - who turns 40 in August - is expected to make his competitive return shortly after the Australian Open, with Courier admitting that he holds concerns around the impact the injuries will have on Federer.
"It's all going to come down to where his knee is at after having two surgeries on it last year," Courier told 2GB's Wide World of Sports Radio.
"Is his movement going to allow him the freedom to play the tennis that the loves and that he's been so incredible at?
"I truly believe his racquet skills won't go anywhere in spite of not playing a tournament since last year's Australian Open.
"I think he's looking to get back some time in the indoors or possibly in Dubai, not too far from now.
However, Courier thinks the 20-time grand slam winner may have to start formulating a 'Plan B' for his game, in the event the knee surgeries have compromised his court-covering abilities.
"It's all going to boil down to his movement," Courier added.
"If he can move, he will be able to play at a high level.
"If his movement is limited, he may have to go out blasting and try blast people off the court to prevent him from playing defence.
"I hope he will get a fair shot at playing. Let's see if he can extend that great run that he's on and make the semis and finals, and maybe even win another major."
Federer left tennis fans heartbroken at the end of December after confirming that he was withdrawing from the first grand slam of 2021.
Family concerns part of Federer decision
An Australian Open official claims part of the reason for the Swiss maestro's decision centred on his wife Mirka's opposition to the strict quarantine conditions that players and their families would be placed under.
Federer said he hadn’t recovered from a reccurring knee injury, which prompted him to pull out of the remainder of the 2020 season - impacted by the coronavirus pandemic - after the same Grand Slam tournament.
However, Australian Open director of player relations Andre Sa said he spoke to Federer and claimed one of the reasons he didn’t want to come to Australia was due to his family's quarantine concerns.
The main reason was the quarantine,” Sa told Ace BandSports.
“I talked to him a month ago and he had two options. He could come with the whole family and quarantine.
“The problem is that Mirka (Federer’s wife) and her children couldn’t leave the room. They would have to stay 14 days in the room.
“The exception is only for players. He could go out, train, and come back, but the family couldn’t. Mirka did not approve the idea.”
Sa said the other option was for Federer to travel to Australia alone.
But this wasn’t part of the equation at Federer’s age.
“The other option would be for him to come alone. Only there would be at least five weeks away from family and children,” Sa said.
“And then he said, ‘Dude, 39, four kids, 20 Grand Slams. I am no longer in time to be away from my family for five weeks.'”
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