The new tennis season is just around the corner. Among other topics in the media, the one about 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer’s making the comeback in 2017 season takes precedence. The last time Federer won the Grand Slam was at Wimbledon 2012 and since then his closest contemporary Novak Djokovic has added six more wins in his kitty to reach 12 Grand Slam titles. Other winners in the intervening years have been Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal and Marin Cilic. After Federer began playing at top level in 1999, the six-month break after Wimbledon 2016 has been his longest and most agonizing. But he has been practicing at Dubai for some time and looks completely match-fit as the 2017 Season beckons. It was announced some time back that Roger Federer will make his first appearance on December 10, 2016 at Hyderabad’s tennis courts after a long lay-off. He had confirmed his acceptance of playing for the Indian Aces in Mahesh Bhupathi promoted International Premier Tennis League. However, the currency crisis in India, subsequent to Indian Government’s demonetization policy, forced Federer and Serena Williams to cancel their India visit plans.
If someone thought age was affecting Roger Federer’s game, he should watch videos of the Swiss legend practicing at Dubai, where he maintains an impressive upmarket residence on the waterfront. Federer invited his twitter fans to watch him in practice and nearly 500000 people have seen him train with Coach Ivan Ljubicic. Earlier, Federer was involved in practice matches with fellow ATP men; Lucas Pouille of France, Borna Coric of Croatia and Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia & Herzegovina. The six-month wait for the great Swiss will end on January 1, 2017, when he reaches Perth, Australia to play in the prestigious mixed-team Hopman Cup with compatriot Belinda Bencic. Federer’s next big stop will be Melbourne, where the Australian Open begins on January 16.
Federer told reporters on a conference call that he doesn’t regret having to sit out over six months, during which he missed the 2016 Rio Olympics and US Open. He added that the break allowed him a much-needed rest that would be beneficial for the future of his tennis career. Now refreshed and rejuvenated, the Swiss cannot wait to hit the courts. Roger Federer is the 88-time winner of ATP tour-level titles and had never taken so much time off from courts in his entire career. But in many ways, 2016 was very different for the 35-year-old Federer. After losing to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semifinals, Federer tore a meniscus in his left knee in a fateful event that had nothing to do with his activities on tennis courts. He was preparing a bath for his twin girls and the damage to his knee was caused by a freak accident. For the first time in his career, Federer had to undergo a knee-surgery in February 2016.
When it seemed he had recovered from surgery, Federer returned to competition two months later in Monte-Carlo. Next month, Federer played in the Rome Masters. In Monte-Carlo, Federer lost to Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals while at Rome, Federer became a third-round casualty to Austria’s Dominic Thiem. Later, the Swiss didn’t play in the Miami and Mutua Madrid Open tournaments and announced his withdrawal from the French Open. That was the first time in 17 years that Federer had missed a Grand Slam tournament. Later, he made his appearance on the grass courts of Stuttgart and Halle before going over to Wimbledon. His semifinal loss to Djokovic was the Swiss Maestro’s last engagement of the Year 2016.
Now Roger Federer is all set for his return to tennis with the Hopman Cup beginning on the New Year Day. But the mixed-team event will not tell us about Federer’s competitive readiness and it is only in the 2017 Australian Open that his real prowess comes to the fore. With Rafael Nadal also staging a comeback, the ensuing season could also be a big test for former world no.1 Novak Djokovic, who will attempt to regain his past superiority by unseating Britain’s Andy Murray from the current top spot. Then there is Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro, who might carry the momentum from the later part of 2016 to challenge the top tennis stars.