Roger Federer, the third surgery and the certainty of a close epilogue

That ovation at the Center Court in Wimbledon, on July 7, uncovered an endless range of sensations. Roger Federer walked towards the exit of the stadium and the public gave him an applause of those that extend for several minutes and that tend to touch the most intimate fibers. The whole world wondered if that would be his last appearance in the mythical All England, the place where the Swiss built much of his legend.

The uncertainty was not supported by the outcome of that match against Hubert Hurkacz, a Polish enthusiast fifteen years younger who would play his first Grand Slam semifinals. That day he had fired an inescapable confirmation: Federer was no longer the same as always. The reaction of his legs had triggered countless questions, several of which were resolved this Sunday, with the announcement of a third surgery on his right knee. “I want to leave you a little update after what happened at Wimbledon. It’s simple: I was checked by the doctors. I know you want to see me play but unfortunately the doctors said that my knee will need another surgery. For a few weeks I will be on crutches. It’s hard. I want to play. But I am realistic and I need to be healthy. It is difficult to play at this age and I need to be healthy. I want to regain hope to play again ”, communicated the Swiss through social networks.

The resolution has an explanation: Federer suffered from his meniscus injury during the close of the turf tour. He hurt himself a little more, according to his own words, and the doubts were cleared with the news of a new passage through the operating room.

Buried those questions now arise more. Federer fulfilled, days ago, no less than 40 years. The analysis will lead to examining the next steps and the near future. The Swiss did not speak of deadlines. Nor did he mention the US Open, ruled out of motion: much less pointed to an eventual return at the start of the season in Australia.

There is nostalgic evidence that cannot be ignored: Federer’s body is worn out. Going back costs more and more. “It’s like boxing. There are fewer and fewer fights. The number of fights decreases with age and the focus on a single tournament is much higher. It’s something I had to learn,” he had shot last week. After the two surgeries last year and the third to come, as strange as it may be for the idealists of the time, his physique no longer responds as usual. The problems flared after Wimbledon, even beyond the ups and downs with which he faced the last tournaments since his return in Doha, in March this year.

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So far this season, the Swiss only played thirteen games, with a record of nine wins and four losses.. They are the thirteen total commitments that he starred in in the last 19 months: until his return to the capital of Qatar, he had not played since the Australian Open in 2020. That is, in more than a year and a half he will have accumulated three surgeries and only five tournaments disputed.

The maximum stimulus from the return was always, without a doubt, Wimbledon. The previous handful of games served him to gather information, despite the risk of adding defeats and piling up more doubts. He reached the round of 16 at Roland Garros and retired before playing the match against Berrettini (9th) with the desire to take care of the body for the grass. Once on the grass he said goodbye in Halle to Felix Auger Aliassime, 19 years younger, and even recriminated the attitude during the third set: he felt that he let go and promised himself that it would not happen again. For the first time in his life it took him more than two hours to attend a press conference: he did not want to make “foolish and hasty” decisions.

Nobody knows what crossed his mind at that moment. Nor is it easy to glimpse what he thought, two weeks later, as he walked towards the exit of the Center Court in Wimbledon, head down, heavy and heavy with history. The meniscus in the right knee, for the moment and without possible euphemisms, has already endangered Federer’s career. He did it last year and he still holds the threat. The third surgery does not offer indications in relation to the times nor does it exhibit certainties about the Swiss’s plans to face the epilogue of his career. The only confirmation is that the Swiss will be away from the circuit “many months”, a trigger that serves to hazard a general answer: the end is near.

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