Brad Gilbert believes Roger Federer will have hard times once he hit the court again at the beginning of 2021. The 38-year-old Swiss announced on Wednesday that he had to undergo the second arthroscopic procedure on his right knee in the last four months, opting to stay away from the Tour if the season resumes in the following months.
In the message shared with his fans, Roger explained his decision, saying the first surgery wasn't enough to take the pain away and that he underwent another one a few weeks ago, hoping to play at his 100% in the season ahead of us.
In Gilbert's opinion, it will be hard for Federer to gain the rhythm again after such a long break and at 39, pointing out that the game has changed since the time of Ken Rosewall and Jimmy Connors. They were capable of delivering notable results at Majors at 39, and we should see if the Swiss is capable of repeating that, especially if he falls through the rankings and travel to Melbourne unseeded.
Roger Federer has been ranked in the top-20 since April 2001 and that streak should come to its end if the season resumes in the following months.
He is still ranked in the top-4 despite being one of the oldest players left on the Tour, undergoing the first surgery in February after reaching the semi-final at the Australian Open, hoping to start competing again in June.
Instead of that, the coronavirus has halted the action since early March, forcing the players to stay at their homes and providing more time for Roger to recover and continue the season. Nonetheless, the Swiss couldn't get at 100% in the recent weeks, deciding to skip the rest of the year and undergo the second surgery that should make him competitive again in 2021, eager to fight against the rivals from the top and chase more records.
"I'm not going to write him off, but this is concerning in his recovery from right knee surgery in February," Brad Gilbert said. "Thirty-nine ain't what it used to be, that's for sure. But if tennis gets going again, he'll probably be unseeded for the Australian Open in 2021 because he played so little early this year; that could mean trouble.
We are in uncharted territory, the way guys are training and taking care of themselves. Sure, Ken Rosewall and Jimmy Connors played at Majors after turning 39, but today's game is more physical and the players are tougher. When you take that much time off, even at 25, 26, it can take six months to get your mojo back.
It's not like you can take your time at 39, especially if you're not protected by seeding, like Roger Federer at the Australian Open."
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