Roger Federer stunned the tennis world on Wednesday when he revealed he might not be back on the tennis court until late 2022.
The 20-time grand slam champion confirmed that he won't be able to play the Australian Open in January and doubts he will be back in time to play Wimbledon in July.
While the news of his Australian Open withdrawal came as no surprise, the tennis world was shocked to hear that Wimbledon might be off the table as well.
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The Swiss legend said he would be able to resume running in January and return to training on the court in March or April.
However the 40-year-old said he'd be "incredibly surprised" if he was ready for Wimbledon in eight months' time.
"Even before the operation, we knew that a break of many months would be necessary afterwards," he said.
“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 need to be very patient and give my knee the time to heal. The next few months will be crucial."
Federer had two knee operations in 2020 that kept him out of action for more than a year and returned to the ATP Tour in March.
However he only played 13 matches this year before undergoing a third operation following his quarter-final loss at Wimbledon last July.
While many fans were left gobsmacked to learn that Federer might not be back in action until the end of 2022, an admission about his family shows why he has no desire to rush his return.
“I had this operation done so that I could ski with my children or play football or tennis in the future," he said.
“My primary motivation was to get back in shape for my normal life.
"But I wanted to approach this rehabilitation with the mentality and body of a top athlete.”
Roger Federer holding out hope for a 'miracle'
The Swiss maestro said he wouldn't be disappointed if he never made another grand slam final, but was holding out hope for a 'miracle'.
"My life is not going to collapse if I don't play a grand slam final again," he admitted.
"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.
“I want to see once again what I can achieve as a tennis pro.
“I’m fighting for it and I’m very motivated. I feel the support of my team and my family.
"We all wish that I can say goodbye on my own terms and on a court.
“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 hasn't won a grand slam since clinching the Australian Open title in 2018.
He is currently tied with great rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on 20 career majors - the all-time men's record.
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