NEW YORK, N.Y. — Roger Federer has confirmed he is on track to return to the tennis tour in January and plans to play on for “numerous years” competing for the sport’s biggest prizes. The Swiss announced last month that he was going to miss the rest of 2016 to fully rehabilitate his left knee after undergoing surgery earlier this year. The decision left him unable to compete at this month’s Olympics and will keep him out of the upcoming U.S. Open for the first time since 1999.
“It was a tough decision to say the least, pulling out of Rio, the U.S. Open, Shanghai, Basel, the World Tour Finals, to just get rid of all of that in one shot was hard,” he said on Wednesday. “But in someways it ended up being a simple decision because health is my number one thing when it comes to tennis.”
Federer, who turned 35 earlier this month, has had a year beset by injury problems, having also been forced to sit out the French Open because of a back problem. But he is confident he will be raring to go in time for the Australian Open next January.
“It’s been an interesting year to say the least,” he added. “My god i never thought i would was going to have the year the way I had it after playing as well as I did in Australia. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’ll learn a lot from this year and i remain very upbeat and positive about whats to come.”
“I don't see it as the end of something, I see it as a beginning to something I'm working for when I come back to the Hopman Cup and the Australian Open.
“I'm doing well, I've been training as much as i possibly could a to re-strengthen my quad my body to keep it in shape so when i head back into the gym for full on fitness in the next couple of months that I'm ready for it.”
Federer was speaking at a press conference in New York to unveil a new annual tournament called the Laver Cup, in which Federer will team up with Nadal as part of a European team to take on one from the rest of the world. Named after Australian great Rod Laver, it will also feature team captains Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, with the first edition taking place next September in Prague.
And, while excited about the event, he admitted it was “painful” to be in New York knowing that he will be unable to take part in the final Grand Slam of the year.
Many have again speculated whether the 17-time Grand Slam champion can fully recover and continue to be a force on the tour. But Federer, who reached at least the semifinals of the last four Grand Slams prior to his injury, finishing runner-up to Djokovic twice, is confident that not only can he return to fitness but that he can again be a real threat to add to his already unprecedented list of honors.
“I took this decision [to take the rest of the year off] because I see myself still playing for numerous years. Otherwise I would have just said ‘look, who cares? I'm just going to somehow play in some shape or form, healthy or not healthy, it doesn’t matter, just fizzle out toward the end of my career.’ But I care too much about the game and health that I still believe something’s possible down the road for me in tennis.”