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Roger Federer's father has explained how much tennis means to his son, in a fascinating insight that makes his latest injury setback harder to stomach.
Federer made the heartbreaking announcement on social media this week that he was set to be ruled out of the sport for "many months" because he requires more surgery on his troublesome knee.
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The 20-time grand slam champion has been struggling to battle back from multiple knee surgeries already, but the latest setback has left the tennis world devastated.
Federer's sad revelation casts serious doubts on his future in the sport, with many fans convinced more than ever that the 40-year-old's retirement is imminent.
The Swiss ace suggested that more surgery will provide him with a "glimmer of hope" about returning to the sport he has played since the age of 14.
Speaking with Blick magazine during a recent interview, Federer's father Robert revealed just how much tennis means to the 40-year-old.
"It's great that he still lives for tennis," Federer Snr said.
He tried very hard to recover his condition after knee operations, I found it truly admirable.
"Roger continues to live his dream, we respect him without ever getting too much in the way."
The Swiss star's mum Lynette says his passion for the sport has never wavered, despite the injury heartache that has blighted the back end of his career.
"He has always followed his instinct and his love for the sport. In addition, his physique has held up quite well despite the repeated stresses of the past 25 years, she said."
The insights from his parents make it even harder to imagine the sport without Federer, but also reaffirm the determination he's shown to return.
Federer has stopped short of suggesting that retirement is on the cards and seems determined to fight back to full fitness.
"I've been doing a lot of checks with the doctors, as well, on my knee, getting all the information as I hurt myself further during the grass-court season and Wimbledon," he said.
"Unfortunately they told me for the medium to long term, to feel better, I will need surgery, so I decided to do it. I will be on crutches for many weeks and then also out of the game for many months."
The decision immediately rules him out of the US Open, where he has been champion five times and which starts in two weeks' time.
Surgery gives Roger Federer a 'glimmer of hope'
"I want to give myself a glimmer of hope to return to the tour in some shape or form," added Federer.
"I am realistic, don't get me wrong. I know how difficult it is at my age to go through another surgery. I will try it. I want to be healthy, I want to be running around."
Federer, who has played just 13 matches in 2021, underwent two knee surgeries in 2020 when he played only six times.
He had already pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics to rest his knee.
Federer withdrew from this year's French Open after reaching the fourth round and was knocked out in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, a tame 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 loss to Poland's Hubert Hurkacz.
That defeat was only his 14th at the All England Club in 119 matches, and the first time he had been beaten in the tournament in straight sets since a first-round exit at the hands of Mario Ancic in 2002.
It was also the first time he had lost a set 6-0 at Wimbledon and just the third time at a slam.
After turning 40 recently, Federer said he was learning to adjust to the fact that recovering from niggles takes two weeks rather than two days.
"It was different before. The questions were simple: what is my place in the ranking? What will my next tournament be?", he told Blick newspaper.
"Today, it's more difficult: how do I feel when I start training again? What are my goals? How to reconcile all this with the family? What does the rest of the team say?"
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