Roger Federer was not 100 per cent when he showed up at the Rod Laver Arena for the big-ticket semifinal against Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open 2020. Apart from playing against ‘one of the best in the business’ (Djokovic), Federer continuously battled with a painful groin muscle that restricted his movement on Thursday. Result, the gritty 38-year-old lost to Serb in straight sets 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 6-3. Following his Australian Open exit, calls for his retirement has gone up. But, the 20-time Grand Slam champion thinks otherwise, as he still believes he has enough ammunition left in the tank to win ‘a major or two’.
“Yes, I do believe that,” the World No. 3 said when asked if he was confident about adding to his Grand Slam titles. “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, yeah.”
In the last season, Federer has shown consistent form reaching French Open semifinal and Wimbledon final, where he eventually lost to Djokovic in an epic five-setter.
The Swiss maestro believes he can still return to Melbourne in 2021 for a crack at a seventh title. “You never know what the future holds. Especially my age, you don’t know,” he added.
“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. From that standpoint, we’ll see how the year goes, how everything is with the family. We’ll go from there. Of course, I hope to be back.”
Federer was hampered by a groin injury which had first cropped up during his quarterfinal against Tennys Sandgren during an intense five-set encounter.
Speaking about turning up for the semis clash versus Djokovic, he said: “Well, I thought I was going to make it, to be honest. I went for a scan that same night (after the Sandgren match), was all right.”
“After that, well, we didn’t push it. I didn’t practice. I took a day off the next day. I don’t think I would have gone on the court if I felt like I had no chance to win.”
The Basel-born superstar is, however, is happy with the way the tournament went. Federer has had a tough run in Melbourne, having played two five-setters in the run-up to the semifinal. “At the end of the day I’m very happy. I think I overall played all right. I know I can play better. At the same time I also know I can play much worse. With no tournaments beforehand, I think it’s a very, very good result,” he further added
He intends to get back to training “rather quickly.” Questions related to retirement plans always crop up whenever the 38-year-old bows out of a tournament with an injury concern, especially a Grand Slam. But the world no.3 has no intention to call time on his career, yet.
Federer has never skipped a Grand Slam match and left it midway. He has played 1513 tour-level matches and 421 matches at major tournaments since 1999 and not given his opponent a walkover.
World No. 2 Djokovic said he had ‘huge respect’ for the resilient Federer’s record of never retiring from a match. “I did have retirements throughout my career. I know how it feels when you’re hurt on the court,” he said.
“It’s an amazing fact that he has never retired his match, not a single match, throughout his career. Huge respect for that.”