Ahead of his semi-final match against Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open on Thursday, worry intensified about whether Roger Federer would step onto the court. The Swiss, as he had said after his “miracle” win over Tennys Sandgren in the quarter-final on Tuesday, did not practice at all on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the chaos around the practice schedule prompted journalists who were at the venue to share that Federer was not announcing his withdrawal from the event. Finally, a few hours before the match, the official broadcaster of the tournament in Australia, Channel 9 confirmed that the six-time champion at Melbourne Park would be contesting the semi-final.
The aforementioned precis leans towards facts and not emotions. The latter dominated reason not just before but both during and after the result of that match, in which Federer took the lead – in the opening set – only to see himself lose it and never make any comebacks in the encounter.
Emotions are still running over, in the aftermath of the event, with euphoria leaving behind the harshness of the situation. That is, the groin injury. The effects of the injury Federer sustained to his groin came to the fore – visibly – during his quarter-final against Sandgren.
Set numbers two and three, and even four – up until he started saving those match points – saw the 20-time Slam champion play with curtailed movement with shot-making that was severely crippled. In his post-match press interview, Federer said that he felt the same after having taken pain-killers during his medical time-out in the third set.
But since with Federer, it has come to be that the less-said, more-is-implied, doubts have continued to circle about the severity of his injury. Even as its cause remains unknown. Yet, one cannot look past Federer’s comments from his last press conference at Melbourne Park.
“I went for a scan that night and was alright and after that, we didn’t push it. I didn’t practice, we took a day off the next day and today I really rested it to as late as possible”. The world no. 3 also reiterated that he had no intention of retiring and that he still believed he could win another Major.
“You never know what the future holds, but especially my age, you don't know. I'm confident. I'm happy how I'm feeling, to be honest. I got through a good, nice training block. No plans to retire…Yes, I do believe that [winning a Slam].
I think by having the year that I had last year, also with what I have in my game, how I'm playing, I do feel that,” he said. Regardless of how this injury setback came about, it is hard to disregard Federer’s last statement.
The 38-year-old was two points away from winning his ninth Wimbledon title around eight months ago and had surpassed his result in the previous edition of the tournament in 2019 [fourth round]. In terms of numbers, Federer exited the 2020 Australian Open with a gain of 720 points while his other rivals, including a few youngsters, fell off quite early along the way.
Furthermore, just three rounds before his semi-final defeat, he won a four-hour-three-minute long marathon, coming back from 8-4 down in the match tie-break defying not only his opponent [John Millman] but also – by his own admission – demons.
It is uncertain as to how Federer will trudge further in the season. Nonetheless, it is certain that the Swiss will not do anything in half-measures. Neither will he step on the court if he does not feel he can give his best nor will he play if he thinks it would be unhelpful to him.
Roger Federer respects himself, the sport and his opponents far too much to do so. Photo Credit: Aus Open Twitter