Earlier this month, tennis fans were led astray when Darren Cahill claimed that Roger Federer was playing the 2022 Australian Open.
Speaking to Sportsday, Cahill stated:
I know he’s doing a lot of work on the court at the moment and we’re pretty sure he’s going to come down to play the Australian Open. At 40 years of age, the fact that he’s even doing what he’s doing is quite remarkable. Darren Cahill
Of course, most Federer fans knew that this had to be false as he's yet to step on a tennis court for serious training, but given rational thinking has become a rare commodity over the last two years; it was soon spread across the world as fact.
Cahill was, of course, quick to retract the claim once questioned, but his baseless speculation didn't go unnoticed in the Federer household.
As a result, the Swiss decided to set the record straight by speaking to the Tribune de Genève and 24heures.
Federer gave Mathieu Aeschmann a forty-minute interview to both clear things up and offer his fans some news regarding his plans for the upcoming season.
While he was still relatively coy about it all, he did share some new information regarding his injury at Wimbledon, his reason for the operation and some loose plans for the future.
When Will Federer Play Again?
As expected, Federer's next time stepping onto a tennis court for competitive play is completely unknown, and although rehab is progressing, tennis-specific training is still a long way off.
The truth is that I would be incredibly surprised to play Wimbledon; as much to say that Australia does not even come into play. And that is not a surprise. We knew before the operation that its nature would require long months of break. So there is nothing new. I wanted to wait for the doctors' first major check-up to talk about it: it is very encouraging. So I started a long process of rehabilitation in which I put all my heart. But that's how it is, the situation has nothing to do with 2016. You have to be patient to give my knee time to recover 100%. Federer on his rehabilitation schedule
My own take from this is that Federer will not play tennis in 2022. Or if he does, it will be at the very end of the year.
Federer's doctors have advised him that he can start running gently in January before slowly returning to the court, and he can undertake tennis type training by the spring.
So while he's undoubtedly been doing some physical work that doesn't load the knee, such as swimming, biking and strength training, there is simply no way he can rebuild his physical condition for tennis that quickly, and he won't make the mistake of rushing back as he did this season.
What Was Federer's Injury During the Grass Court Season?
Examinations after the grass season revealed a new injury to my right medial meniscus. It was therefore decided to stitch it, which creates a period immobilization; the doctors therefore took the opportunity to also treat my cartilage. However, the combination of these two interventions requires patience and great care. This is why I could not put my weight down so I moved on crutches. This operation, I was going to have to do it anyway for my long-term well-being. It is a restorative intervention. In this sense, it is more important than those of 2020 which aimed to relieve me of a problem that I had been dragging for a few years. Federer on re-injuring his knee during the grass court season of 2021
As several fans had speculated, it appears Federer's knee problems first reappeared in Halle, and he revealed that he knew immediately after his loss to Felix Auger Aliassime that Wimbledon would not be another fairytale.
Still, he took to the court and somehow made the quarter-finals at SW19 despite playing with a wobbly meniscus, showing that even when handicapped, he could still compete with the best.
So why does he still carry on? There are several reasons, but his fans are a big one.
First, I want to say that I undertook this operation to be able to ski with my children, to play soccer or tennis with my friends in the decades to come. My first motivation was to get back in shape for my life as a man. But I wanted to take on this demanding rehabilitation with the body and mentality of an elite athlete. I understand the feelings of the fans. It is moreover for them that I wanted to speak today: I think that they deserve to understand my mood and my hopes. You know, the easiest would almost be to say: it's good, I've given a lot, received a lot. We stop everything. But instead, I give everything to come back once again, it is also my way of thanking them. They deserve better than the image left during the grass season this year. Federer on why he decided to try another comeback
For those who want to read it, the full interview is available in Swiss german over at the Tages-Anzeiger but is behind a paywall.
When do you think Federer will play again? Let me know in the comments.