Roger Federer Australian Open 2020

Legend doubts Roger Federer can return to Slam-winning best

John McEnroe doubts whether Roger Federer can return to his highest level and win Grand Slams but admits he has “pulled off the improbable before.”

All three 20-time Grand Slam champions Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Federer have been facing issues that may put their chances of ending their careers as the most successful male player of all time at risk.

Swiss maestro Federer underwent a third knee surgery after Wimbledon which ruled him out of both the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the US Open.

As a result, Federer has dropped to 14th in the ATP rankings but will drop to at least 29th following the conclusion of the Australian Open, his lowest position since January 2001.

The Swiss icon could make his return at Wimbledon in the Summer.

Like Federer, Nadal was also ruled out for the latter half of last season when a foot injury saw him miss five months of action. However, the Spaniard finds himself in the final of the Australian Open and should he win he’ll be the first of the three to win 21 Grand Slam titles.

Moreover, Djokovic was denied a chance of a 21st Slam after his medical exemption and visa was cancelled not once, but twice and the Serbian icon was deported just one day before the ‘Happy Slam’ got underway.

The Serbian is the youngest of the trio and the only one without recurrent injury concerns. However, during his legal proceedings it was revealed that Djokovic is unvaccinated against Covid-19.

As such, vaccine and travel troubles may further implicate his Slam involvement, particularly the French Open.

Speaking with Eurosport, McEnroe said “it goes without saying that anytime we are at an event where Roger is not playing we miss him.

“He’s the classiest player and the most beautiful player I have seen on a court. As a fan I would love to see Roger around.

“As far as the future, he’sĀ 40 years old. Heā€™s had numerous surgeries on his knee, thereā€™s a lot of wear and tear, it would be unbelievable if he could come back and get close to the level that he was at.

“I thought theĀ same thing five years ago when I was coaching [Milos] Raonic and Roger walked off after the Wimbledon semi-finals [in 2016] and was limping and didnā€™t play for six months. Then he won the Australian Open.

“He’s pulled off theĀ improbable before but this would be the most amazing of all if he was to win another Wimbledon.

“If he wants to play we will be happy he is playing but I donā€™t want to see Roger at 80 per cent. … You want to see the top guys play at their best.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.