Everyone expected to see Roger Federer on the pitch at the 2021 Australian Open, one year after his last official match. For the first time in the last 23 editions, the 39-year-old Swiss decided instead to give up the trip Down Under due to the imperfect conditions of his knee combined with the strict protocols imposed by the local government.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion has therefore chosen to postpone his return to the Doha tournament, which will start in the second week of March. Many are wondering if the former world number 1 will be able to return to competition at the age of 40 and after two knee operations.
The Basel legend has repeatedly reiterated that all his efforts will be focused on Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, postponed by twelve months due to the global pandemic. In a lengthy interview with Tennis Head, former British tennis star Annabel Croft explained how Federer will try to take his aggressive tactic to the extreme to win more prestigious titles.
Croft on Roger Federer's return
"Returning after surgery and after such a long break will be a huge challenge, which makes me wonder whether we might see something different from Roger Federer," Annabel Croft told Tennis Head.
"By nature Federer is an aggressive player who looks to win matches quickly, but he might have decided that at this stage of his career it is time to shorten points even more by attacking at every conceivable opportunity, playing chip-and-charge on his returns and getting into the net whenever he can.
If he is to challenge for the biggest prizes, he surely needs to avoid being drawn into lengthy wars of attrition. Having said all that, I think Wimbledon is probably the only Grand Slam title that he could realistically win next year, because his grass-court game is so brilliant."
Although tennis' Big Three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are all coming towards the end of their careers, Croft still reckons they will have enough to dominate this season. She added: "Big Three, far from being in decline, are looking as likely as ever to dominate, with the caveat that nobody will quite know what to expect from Federer, who will turn 40 in August.
He seems to have been holding back the years for most of the last decade and we have learned never to write him off, but does he have it in him to make one more all-conquering comeback?"