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Roger Federer will not play the Australian Open and "would be extremely surprised" if he returns for Wimbledon, he told the Swiss newspaper Le Matin.
Federer spoke openly for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in August after withdrawing from the U.S. Open. It's the third right knee surgery for the 20-time Grand Slam winner who is currently tied for most Slam men's singles titles all-time with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Federer out for Australian Open, likely Wimbledon
Federer, 40, last played at the 2021 Wimbledon tournament in July when he lost in the quarterfinal to Hubert Hurkacz. A month later he announced he would not be able to compete at the U.S. Open and planned to come back after surgery.
"I would be incredibly surprised if I were to play again already at Wimbledon (2022)," Federer told Le Matin (transcribed by tennis Simon Graf). "Australia is not an option at all. But that's no surprise for me. Even before the operation, we knew that a break of many months would be necessary afterwards."
The Australian Open begins Jan. 17 in Melbourne. He won six of his titles there, most recently in 2018. It was his last major victory.
The French Open begins in May, another major he will presumably miss, and Wimbledon in July. He estimated his return "in the summer of 2022." That would open up the U.S. Open as a possibility.
Federer giving all to rehab, return
When he announced the surgery in an Instagram video, Federer said he had no intention of retiring yet and wanted "to give myself a glimmer of hope to return to the Tour in some shape or form."
He seemed to reiterate that to Le Matin (via the Washington Post):
“My ambition is to see what I’m capable of one last time," he said. "I also wish I could say goodbye in my own way and on a tennis court. That’s why I give my all in my rehabilitation.
“Then, let’s be clear, my life is not going to collapse if I don’t play a Grand Slam final again. But it would be the ultimate dream to go back. And, in fact, I still believe in it. I believe in these kinds of miracles.”
He added he had the operation done to be able to play and do activities with his children in the future. Living a "normal life" was his main motivation, he said, but he wants to approach rehab "with the mentality and body of a top athlete."
"We all wish that I can say goodbye on my own terms and on a court," he said, via the Post. "I have experienced similar challenges many times in my career. Sometimes without the public being aware of it. And even though I know that the end is near, I want to try to play some big matches again. It won't be easy, but I will try."
Federer on injury, comeback
Federer told the newspaper he had a right inner meniscus injury again that was found during an examine after the grass season ended. Doctors also treated the cartilage and he was immobilized for a short period, he said.
He said he passed his "first big checkup" recently with doctors and can resume running in January and "sessions on the court with complex support" in March or April.
Federer has won eight titles at Wimbledon, six at the Australian Open, five at the U.S. Open and one at the French Open.