Roger Federer

Federer Withdraws from Tokyo Olympics

The Swiss announced via social media he has suffered a setback with his knee and cannot participate at the Olympic Games.

Despite being recently selected for Tokyo Olympics 2020 by the Swiss Olympic Association, Roger Federer has announced via social media that he will not participate in his fifth Olympic Games.

The news comes in the wake of the Tokyo Metropolitan government declaring the rearranged games would be held without fans.

However, rather than the lack of spectators and strict bubble life creating a dilemma for the Swiss, it appears to be another injury setback that was the deciding factor.

Posting via Twitter, he made the following statement:

During the grass-court season, I, unfortunately, experienced a setback with my knee, and have accepted that I must withdraw from the Tokyo Olympic Games. I am greatly disappointed, as it has been an honour and highlight of my career each time I have represented Switzerland. I have already begun rehabilitation in the hopes of returning to the tour later this summer. I wish the entire Swiss team the best of luck and I will be rooting hard from afar. As always, Hopp Schwiz! Federer on his Olympic Withdrawal

More Knee Woes?

federer knee

Federer's statement is vague but based on his hopes to play later this summer; it doesn't sound like the setback is too serious.

But we really have no idea. His last comeback post double knee surgery was originally slated for Wimbledon 2020 but ended up being in March 2021, so things do not always go to plan.

Hopefully, it's a small niggle, and it was more the combination of playing in front of empty seats, more bubble life, and draconian rules in Tokyo that made the decision for him.

However, regardless of the severity, it perhaps sheds some light on his level of performance against Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, which was a marked step down compared to his second, third and fourth-round performances.

Personally, my take is that even if he can still theoretically play, why risk creating more debilitating problems in an environment that's going to be devoid of fun at a tournament that has huge question marks around whether it should even be part of the Olympic Programme.

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments.


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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  1. I think it’s an excuse to miss the games the no crowd and bubble rules are to much. Roger has a gold don’t matter if it’s singles Gold is Gold this games are disaster waiting to happen. IOC are trying to kill the athletes I wouldn’t be surprised if all of them them get ill.

    1. Fed sometimes “lies” to not disclose injuries, so I doubt he would lie about having one when there is none. Moreover, if there is one place where he could have done that, it was the french and he didn’t. So no, he is injured.

      1. Why the quotation marks? Lie is a lie, no matter which are intentions. Hiding injuries before the match and then telling about them after the loss (in the injury didn’t happen during the match), just after the match or anytime later, is unfair. because it diminishes the success of the opponent.
        Bresnik (old Thiem’s coach) used to say: if you step onto the court, means, you are ready for the competition. If an no injury happens during the match and you say after the match, you was not fully fit or something, you make yourself stupid and laughable”. Match lost, credit the opponent, who was simply better just this day and that’s all you have to say about the thing.
        Some here tend to think, it’s just very fair from Fed, he tells about the injury or any ailment he had in a lost match after weeks or half a year. It’s just the opposite, if you are Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Mr. Nobody.

    2. That’s exactly what it is, Layla!!

      Right after he lost to Hurkacz, he said in his presser that he was happy he hadn’t experienced “any setbacks” at all. And now today, he’s citing a “setback” with his knee. 😛

      If you believe this phony “setback” excuse, I have the Eiffel Tower to sell you!! 😉

      1. No, the reference to “setbacks” appears to have been in relation to the post-surgery rehab, not to his performance since his return. Read it in context.

      2. I’ve seen the context, and I disagree, alison.

        You really think if Fed was injured, he wouldn’t have mentioned it right after the match?? 😆

        This is just another flimsy excuse.

      3. How long have you been watching Federer, Sam? Past experience indicates that he will never mention an injury after a match unless it was so blindingly obvious that he can’t deny it. Past experience also suggests that we may find out about it some months later when people aren’t as interested.

      4. He didn’t say the setback happened at Wimbledon.

        It could have happened against FFA.

        And his reference to “no setback” just meant – “nothing worse happened here” while still holding his cards on the fact that’s he was struggling.

        This is much more in keeping with Federer never – never in my recollection – ever citing an injury right after a loss as the cause of the loss (perhaps obvious 2016 fall against Raonic excluded – I can’t remember)

        He’s smarter than that and he knows it will only look like sour grapes.

        Fed’s sustained plenty of injuries over the last 10 years. We never hear about them right after a match.

        That’s on purpose.

      5. Alison, past experience also indicates that Federer is willing to *lie* when it’s convenient. Back in 2014, he ducked the year-end final against Djokovic supposedly because of an “injury.” 😛 But then just a few days later, he was running around like a rabbit at the Davis Cup.

        In light of this kind of thing, I’m not buying his “injury” excuse for a minute. 😉

      6. The Davis Cup required an injection and he was hampered vs Monfils. He was clearly not fit to play that match, anyone who thinks otherwise clearly hasn’t watched the matches.

      7. Sam, you’ve just proved my point again. You claim he lied about the injury at the WTF: apart from the fact that a lot of people spotted the moment it happened just before the end of the semi-final, at the Australian Open in January 2015 he admitted that he’d been totally unable to run on that Sunday. Please look it up, because I’m getting very tired of having to put people right about this. Thanks.

      8. What I remember about Davis Cup 2014 is Fed’s Swiss teammates carrying his equipment bags on and off the court. I think the bag carrier was Stan, and this was shortly after the O2 post-match blow up that involved Mirka. Yes Fed was playing in some or all of the Davis Cup matches, but he wasn’t bending over and his movement was clearly hampered. I think athletes often need to make complex trade offs that go beyond ‘yes’ they are playing or ‘no’ they are not playing.

      9. “If you believe this phony “setback” excuse, I have the Eiffel Tower to sell you!! 😉”

        That’s beginning to sound a bit hollow now, isn’t it? 🙁

    3. All the athletes and teams are vaccinated, so they will not get ill. But even vaccinated people can potentially carry the infection and this is the worry of Japan. The problem are rather the crowds, so the will be none. It’s the same kind of disaster as every tennis tournament was in 2020, including US Open and partly The French.
      Most of athletes want to go there even without crowds, because they prepare very long time for this unique event.
      It’s not the same with pro tennis. Biggest highlights in tennis are Grand Slams, not the Olympics.

      1. There’s no absolute guarantee that anyone who’s been vaccinated won’t get ill with whatever it is they’ve been vaccinated against: I think that applies to more or less every illness, not just Covid. The theory is that if you do catch it you will generally get less ill than you would if you weren’t vaccinated, but even that we can’t be entirely sure of in these relatively early days.

      2. @Alison
        Of course there is nothing 100%. Just like with other infectious diseases and vaccines against them. Nothing new under the sun. And there were always some viruses, where all attempts to create vaccines failed.
        So one day we need to leave “as usual” with Covid like we did with all viruses, known or unknown.
        Once highest risk groups are vaccinated and maybe get a boost jabs after some time, we are virtually free of severe cases or deaths, medical services are not overwhelmed and then it turns to be a part of daily business.
        Many virus diseases are never recognized as such, if the number of cases is not very high. You get a flu but symptoms are mild so you stay home for some days and it’s over. Not for everyone. Some are more prone to harder courses and stronger symptoms. Many can avoid most of virus diseases because of lifestyle and diet or inborn strength of the immune system.
        I’m wondering about Australia or New Zealand – countries trying to avoid the virus at all. It probably ends one day in big outbreaks, because people are not inclined to get the vaccine with infection numbers of 10-20 a day. Viruses never disappear, we must live with them and until the numbers of infections are not going very high, mist may be even mot aware of the existence of such viruses and respective diseases, like most were not aware (including me) of MERS and SARS epidemics.

      3. Next comes your last link, presenting “dependence” of case numbers on mandating masks or not.
        This is complete garbage. And you know, why. It’s showing two factors, having only the timely relation.
        You could present the same way the dependence between numbers of cases and anything – let it be the moments, when trees started to have some leafs. Or you starting to wear a new shirt.
        This is quite simple manipulation for dummies 🙂

  2. This is just terrible. I noticed that he mentioned “the grass court season” instead of Wimbledon, so I think he got injured while practicing or during Halle.
    Playing the clay and Roland Garros was a huge mistake. The Olympics were up for grabs this time.
    I can’t stand Đoković winning everything in the weakest era I’ve ever saw.

  3. Agree, I think the knee issue is minor but helped the decision process. Who on earth wants to go to the Games anyway

  4. I have mixed feelings about Roger at this stage in his career! He’s always been my favourite, however there comes a time when an athlete has to make decisions. I believe this is what is going on at the moment. I don’t blame him for not going to the Olympics. He sacrificed being away from his family over Wimbledon and COVID is not under control in Japan. Also, Roger has to take his overall health into consideration and not be playing just for his fans because things might go south for him with all the younger players. Still a legend. He’s done enough! The first male tennis player to win 20 Grand Slams!!!👏🏻❤️👏🏻❤️👏🏻

  5. I don’t think Fed lies about his fitness. It was obvious he wasn’t himself in the quarters. And as usual, he doesn’t say a word at the time and announces down the road that he has some sort of injury. I knew he was struggling!
    Here in Canada Shapo and Andreescu have pulled out too.
    Why oh why didn’t they delay the games until 2022. A huge cost for what?

    1. Hey Sue! Interesting take on it.

      Personally, when I read the update, I thought he might be using the knee as a reason to not play the Olympics if he feels his game’s not back yet, but I can equally see how the knee might have hindered his movement in the Quarters.

      Not sure which option I prefer though!

    2. At least they will recover some part of that “huge cost” from the video-TV franchise. Billions of people around the world will watch on their new 5G devices and televisions.

  6. OL without crowds and many athletes withdrawing. I fear this will be a huge flop. Poor Japanese investigors…

  7. I am hoping the Roger is healthy and will continue to play for a few more year! Specifically I hope he makes it out here to Indian Wells in October. That would be a gift for me to see him again near home. I miss him already. But I do believe he’s doing the right thing to lengthen his career and the better all of us are for it!

  8. It’s a bit sad but wise. Don’t know who from the top will go there. I would like to see ATP and WTA withdrawing in the name of their members. But the reality will be for sure different.
    Federer skips. Nadal skips. Thiem skips. Murray plays. Tsitsipas, Medvedev and Zverev play. So there will be some competition but … I’m happy, my two favorites are not going there.

  9. I agree with you Sue. Why in heavens name they are carrying on with these games is a mystery to me. Competing in the Olympic Games should be the thrill of a lifetime and I suppose to some degree it will be but, no fans, bubbles, severe restrictions and rules country wide, very few team members allowed with you etc etc. it also sounds as if it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
    Don’t blame Roger for not participating. ( Wonder what his sponsers think)

    1. Why are they going with Olmypics? Ask Mr. Bach, IOC Preesident. It’s a big business. Sponsors have paid big money before and want to have some reward.
      The world is just like it is right now. Thiem won his maiden GS before empty tribunes. Pandemics affect more regular people than sports celebrities. Everyone must carry his/her part. Only celebrities of tennis can afford to withdraw. Don’t know if the knee setback is real or only pretext, but I think it’s still good decision, given all circumstances. He would in any case have no chances for Gold, maybe even for any medal.
      Lower ranked and less affluent players will go just for money and a better chance of having some success, if top players don’t come. For what they should not be blamed too..
      What Fed’s sponsors think? No problem. They are blessed to be his sponsors and who reigns here is Fed, not the sponsors.

  10. Good decision Roger. You don’t want to be remembered as a malfunctioning cripple in the sunset of your career. Play only when your body tells you its okay to strain it for your “A” game.

  11. Don’t blame him. I believe he likely has a knee issue like he says, but the whole Olympics has become a complete farce. He didn’t seem to have his family at Wimbledon and probably didn’t really see the point in going further afield without them when his knee is potentially not up to scratch, no fans, bubbles, blah blah blah. He would also be aware he is no longer one of the top contenders for an Olympic Gold.

    I personally think there’ll always be a question mark over the men tennis singles Olympic winner…. Quite a few top players have withdrawn and Novak was clearly still 50/50 when asked. (However I do think his desire for a Golden Slam will be influence his decision 🤣)

  12. What a shame,both for Fed and this Olympic Games which seems to be a non event.
    I hope the injury is minor and he recovers soon.

  13. One day we all but first of all Federer himself must decide to accept the reality. He has tried everything over last years, months and weeks but the time for more big wins is over and he deserves to have another long and happy life “after tennis”. He must not ask fans, sponsors or whoever, if he should try again. He only needs to ask himself and this time no more his team but the other “team” (family) or actually have a serious talk with himself and decide what is his more important right now. He is first a man and father, then a tennis player and fans’ darling, not the opposite.
    After so long time of rehab and then one setback after the other. Who feels entitled to expect him to take a bigger risk of losing his capabilities as a man and father? I’m not. I hope, he finds some relaxed way to call it a career, leaving the tennis world as a big hero and a happy person.

    1. Thank you! I so agree with your comments. Although watching tennis will not be the same when Roger does hang up his racquet, I do believe that he should do it before his body gives out completely.
      He is a wonderful champion and I am sure he will find a way to enjoy his “retirement”.

      1. Yeah, and I think, he will easily find ways to still be present in tennis (exhibitions, coaching …), so – if his body allows – we’ll not lose him completely. It was a big gift to follow him at his best. And he deserved to behave the love and acceptation from his fans, when he must stop 🙂

  14. Hard to know what to make of this. My guess is it’s a case of his knee still not being 100% rather than an actual injury but has used that wording to avoid getting into the whole issue of bubbles/no fans, etc. Personally I’m glad he’s skipping it anyway since I don’t believe the Olympics should cater for professional athletes.
    Contrary to some comments above, and with the benefit of hindsight somewhat, I think he should have kept going at RG to get some rhythm going and steel himself for Wimbledon a bit more. Anyway, what’s done is done — hope to see him back at Cincinnati and then the US Open.

    1. It’s easy to understand, why he did withdraw from Paris. Either it’s true, that he had knee pains, meaning he was not ready for such an effort. Then he did play Paris only as a kind of preparation for grass, which didn’t help him, but who could have known it before?

      1. Yeah, we’ll never really know. Guess it doesn’t matter now either. He did seem to be playing better at RG than Wimbledon though and hopefully next year he’ll just take each tournament at a time and fully focus on the one he’s participating in at the time.

  15. While I believe that the joy of competing can be best rediscovered through active participation, there is no one who knows himself better but Mr Federer. He have done so much already, and as a fan, the opportunity of witnessing the magic some more is always enticing to hope for.

    All the best, Sir!

  16. Why do I get the feeling that, if anything, he’s understating the situation? I guess things will become clearer with time, as they usually do – and we’ll see if he does indeed turn up for the US hardcourt swing – but he really hasn’t had much luck with the Olympics, has he? Very disappointing. But I’d rather he got properly fit, assuming that’s still possible, rather than risk things again.

    Will be very interested to see if Djokovic goes. Despite what he’s said about not going if there are no fans, will his ambition to get a golden slam (or maybe any sort of medal at all) outweigh all other considerations?

    1. Not sure, but I think, Djoker will not go for an easy Gold in Tokyo, given his greatest rivals have declared to skip. But … still Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Zverev have declared to go, so still some challenging competition will be there. My guess is, Djoker does skips too.

  17. I can’t say I’m stunned. I thought the family & bubble issues were going to be problematic in any case, though there’s a strong pull to be there for his sponsor as well. But if his knee is acting up – as you say, it sheds light on the sudden loss of progress on court, & why on earth risk worse? I think we still don’t know what we didn’t know before, which includes – is 4 matches going to be his limit now? He may not know that either. It depends on what the setback is, on what the rehab involves, on what the maximum healing is. I really just want him to be able to have fun on the tennis court. I do think for him that’s probably got to include winning some titles, and maybe that does involve reworking his schedule, even if temporarily, to concentrate on 250s. I don’t buy this whole “tarnishing his legacy” narrative; at some point he’ll stop adding to his achievements, but there’s no subtractive effect there.

    Poor Japanese organizers are kind of in a no-win situation here. It could be a neat opportunity for somebody who wouldn’t normally get the chance though, especially if Novak decides not to go.

    1. Well said. Federer’s said a few times now that he isn’t looking for a fairytale ending.

      That said, I’m beginning to wonder how much Wimbledon 2019 really affected him. I supposed at first that it would “haunt” him, but his comments after their WTF 2019 match (and even before) seemed to indicate that he’d got over it … in a way his fans will likely never manage to. I’m still inclined to believe that it remains a greater disappointment to his fans than it does to Federer (who, lucky for him, doesn’t have to argue with Djokovic fans on internet threads) as well as believe that he’d have gone through the process of rehab even if he had won and been defending champion, but I’m beginning to think he’d have *approached* his comeback differently had he won Wimbledon 2019. Sure, getting to 9 would have left him wanting a tenth, but it wouldn’t have allowed him the comfort of being able to retire after beating Djokovic at a slam.

      Speaking for myself, the Wimby 2019 result still feels unreal (and surreal?) and I still feel disappointed about it – mostly for two reasons.

      1. The Fed was by far the better player, who lost for no other reason but that he got nervous.

      2. He’d have finally (at almost 38 years!) beaten *both* Nadal and Djokovic to win a tournament. Given his remarkable success against them through the years – despite the difference in age and their baseline games (designed primarily to neutralize his attacking, all-court game) – it would have been *a most well-deserved achievement*.

      So, yeah, Federer is unlikely to get a fairytale ending (even if he’d wanted it). Nonetheless, the semis and the finals of Wimbledon 2019 should go down as *two of Federer’s greatest matches* and serve as examples of what it means to be an attacking, all-court player with an peerless aesthetic and a sui generis style.

      1. “Sure, getting to 9 would have left him wanting a tenth, but it wouldn’t have allowed him the comfort of being able to retire after beating Djokovic at a slam.”

        “would have allowed him the comfort … ” is how this should have read.

    2. I did consider bringing up the bubble issue in relation to the previous post, but I think it will do fairly well here, too. I wondered about the mental and emotional draining effect the Covid restrictions might have, on all players, but particularly Roger given his associations with the Championships and how long he’d been attending: normally he’d have rented a local house or two, brought all the family with him and presumably had downtime and relaxation with them on his days off, whereas this time you’re stuck in one hotel in central London, only allowed to travel between it and the venue, no family allowed (I assume), and from something he said I suspected there might have been less socialising between players in the hotel than I might have thought. Okay, it’s obviously far bigger and better equipped than the Travelodge room I was virtually screaming to get out of after a few hours, but it’s not a situation I’d be looking forward to repeating a mere couple of weeks later, regardless of any setbacks, physical or mental.

      I did wonder if that slip at the end of the second set of the Hurkacz match did do something to his knee, or at least left him worried that he might do something to it if he continued, simply because it did seem so unlikely that he’d get bagelled at Wimbledon of all places if nothing was wrong. Hopefully whatever the “setback” is it will be something that can be dealt with fairly quickly.

  18. This makes a lot of sense out of the Hubert match.

    And it’s troubling – if Roger is telling the truth – which I think he given he’s got no reason to lie. Obviously he could have just said what he said at RG: “I’m pulling out cause I wanna take care of the knee, can’t push it, listening to the body”.

    So, yeah – I feel like this is bad news.

    2 surgeries, 18 months off, long long LONG rehab working extremely hard …and …. BAM! He’s injured it again, just barely into his comeback.

    How can he possibly have any kind of consequential / viable comeback if his knee can’t take the first week at slams before he either pulls out or gets hurt?

    I hope it’s a much better reality than I’m implying; I really want Fed to play up to his standards, but maybe this is just too much at this point.

  19. I thought it was a question mark without an injury because of the quick turnaround, and he probably wouldn’t have won more than a few matches. As he said in the press conference after the QF he felt exhausted. Hopefully this is a minor thing and he can play Cincy and USO. I’m guessing he hurt the knee against Hurkacz but didn’t say so to take away from his win, but we’ll never know unless he writes an autobiography. He was having a lot of trouble moving to his forehand side and I think the serve speed was down too (down from 122 mph which seems to be his top now).

  20. I’d rather see Roger rehabilitate than play when not 100%. He did well at Wimbledon considering his injuries.
    I just hope that his fans are able to watch him play into his 40’s on any level. So nice to watch him in motion!

      1. But it would be better to play LaverCup and exhibition matches, where he can stop anytime and things are going ahead (RLC) and exhibitions are still great with big audience (not making sense without the audience). Then maybe think about coaching, rather on-site, in his own Academy, than as a touring coach, but t5his would be of course still an option and people will be happy to see him in the player’s box and would cheer for his pupil/s, still some intense contact with fans.

  21. If Fed extends his career to wow us again I’m all for him passing on it … thanks everyone for all the perspectives and Jonathan for this great site.

    1. I agree Katie! After I read Fed’s announcement I looked forward to coming to this forum to read everybody’s comments 🙂

  22. There was a proposition for Fed to use martial arts to give him health, confidence, whatever.
    Just read, Djoker’s secrets for success, fitness, mental strength and brain-game are: veganism, yoga and Buddhist meditations. And the command of 11 foreign languages, including Arab. Well, maybe a bit exaggerated, but I have heard him speaking fluently French in Paris and Spanish on Mallorca. Adding English and Serbian makes just 4. Not that bad. Ivanisevic says, you must kill Djoker 27 times – good metaphor?
    Maybe Fed should follow Djoker in this area?

  23. Is the pic in your article from London Olympics 2012? Fed looks here like tiny boy 🙂 Rather 20 than 30 years old 😉

  24. Djokovic will easily win the Olympics, and who knows, might sweep the hard courts too, given that literally no one can play tennis under pressure nowadays. It’s remarkable how quickly Fed’s glory has been eclipsed. He’s an almost total has-been at this point, and almost none of his major records have stood up. Even if he won Wimbledon 2019, he’d be passed this year or next, but at least that’d have been a feather in his cap, a great way for an old legend to go out. Instead, he bungled his way to a legacy-marring loss, and hasn’t been close to the same since. It’s pure nostalgia at this point, as Fed’s career for almost four years now has been one gut punching disappointment after another.

    1. Hard words, but true.
      Nadal is still a great fighter, but loses the winning ability with every year.
      The best chance to challenge Djoker would be Thiem but nobody knows, if, when and how big he will play after the comeback from wrist injury. He has certainly strong mentality but misses Djoker’s ability to win even if playing bad. Thiem wins only if in best form – skills, fitness and mental strength are then enough to defeat Djoker too. Others will try and loose for some 2-3 years.
      Fed, yes, he should give up, I think and go for exhibitions and maybe coaching, to behave contact with crowds, travelling, the whole thing around top tennis, he probably still needs.

  25. I love Federer. He is a fantastic player. However, his time in tennis is expiring and he should think of withdrawing. Just give a way to the new generation.

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