Roger Federer's family dilemma as uncertainty surrounds future

Roger Federer, pictured here with wife Mirka and their children.
Roger Federer will have to consider whether he still wants to spend long periods away from his family. Image: Getty

Roger Federer turned 40 on Sunday amid major uncertainty surrounding the Swiss legend's future in tennis.

Novak Djokovic was among those to pay tribute to his great rival, with the World No.1 sitting equal with Federer and Rafa Nadal on 20 grand slam titles apiece.

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"Hey Roger, happy 40th birthday - 40th, wow, what a milestone," said Djokovic in a video posted to the ATP Tour's official Twitter account.

"You still keep on inspiring and thriving on the court, off the court, inspiring all of us.

"It's been a huge honour to share the tennis court and the tennis circuit with you in the last 15 years.

"Hopefully you can still keep on playing. The sport needs you, of course, and thanks for everything you have done and thanks for showing us that even at that age we can play at a very high level."

But how much longer the Swiss champion will keep playing remains a mystery.

Federer was a shock withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics after re-injuring his knee at Wimbledon.

He has since pulled out of upcoming hard-court events in Toronto and Cincinnati, throwing his availability for the US Open in serious doubt.

Should he indeed be an absentee in New York, what is there left to target given there are doubts about next year's Australian Open as well.

The Laver Cup, a tournament in which he is financially invested and is due to be played in Boston in late September, could be something to aim for.

Roger Federer, pictured here in action during the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
Roger Federer in action during the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Beyond that, would he play on in 2022? Could he tolerate more long road trips without his family, living in a tennis bubble?

Speaking to reporters at Wimbledon, Federer said it was "terrible" being away from his family for long stretches.

"I have not seen them, I am not with them and that in itself is not good," he said.

"I speak to them you know, three times a day, checking with (wife) Mirka if everything's okay at home."

Federer was also forced to separate from his family at the French Open in June.

"For me, it’s not a problem to come to Paris and do [the bubble] for two weeks, going from hotel to club," Federer said at Roland Garros.

"But having four kids in a bubble isn’t really going to work out for me, so we have this situation here and we’ll have it again at Wimbledon, and maybe also at the Olympics."

Roger Federer unlikely to win another grand slam

Federer has never settled for second best, and it may have dawned on him at Wimbledon that in all probability he no longer can win a grand slam.

Losing a set 6-0 to Hubert Hurkacz on the way to a quarter-final exit would have hurt.

The hunger does not go away after 20 grand slams, but Federer's battle-weary body is sending him messages.

He will want to go out on his own terms, which means getting fully fit.

Assuming the knee issue is not a major problem, Federer could still play the US Open, Laver Cup, Indian Wells and Paris Masters this year.

If the mind is willing but the body does not comply, then it would not be a shock to see him call time before the year is out.

with AAP

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