Novak Djokovic has sent a message to the tennis world after Roger Federer's difficult news that he will miss the Australian Open and beyond due to his knee injury.
Earlier this week Federer's coach Ivan Ljubicic revealed it was 'highly unlikely' that the Swiss legend would play the Australian Open in January following a third knee surgery earlier this year.
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On Wednesday, Federer confirmed that news while also dropping the bombshell that he would be "extremely surprised" if he was back in time for Wimbledon next July.
This sent shockwaves through the tennis community with the 40-year-old icon coming to the very end of his career.
After hearing of the comments, World No.1 Djokovic sent a kind message to Federer and threw his support behind his return.
Whenever it may be.
“Obviously Roger is an icon of our sport and people around the world love him,” Djokovic said after his victory over Andrey Rublev at the ATP Finals.
"They love watching him play, love seeing him around. He’s very important for our sport on and off the court. So for the sake of our sport, I sincerely hope that we can see him play at least another time."
Djokovic added he doesn't think the champion wants to end his career due to an injury, which has plagued him for nearly two years now.
"I’m sure he doesn’t want to end his career this way. I think he’s gonna definitely try to give it a last push, a last try.
"I’m not sure what his injury is, and I know he’s been struggling with a knee for quite a few years. So, yeah, let’s see."
Roger Federer's tough Australian Open admission
The 20-time grand slam champion said he would be able to resume running in January and return to training on the court in March or April.
“I would be incredibly surprised if I were to play again already at Wimbledon,” he Federer said in an interview carried by several Swiss media outlets.
“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.
“I wanted to wait for the first major check-up before making a public statement, and the check-up was very encouraging.
"I have started a long rehabilitation process in which I put all my heart and soul. But the situation is not the same as in 2016. I have to be patient.
"I need to be very patient and give my knee the time to heal. The next few months will be crucial."
Federer is tied on 20 grand slam titles with Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the race to become the most successful men's singles champion of all time.
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