Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer, who was expected to end a year-long break with a much-anticipated comeback in Melbourne, has withdrawn from the 2021 Australian Open – but he still made the day of a 100-year-old female fan.
The 20-time Grand Slam winneris still recovering from a serious injury, having undergone two surgeries on a troublesome knee last season.
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That means the former world number one will have to hold off his charge towards Jimmy Connors’ 109-title record, standing just six singles trophies short of that long-standing achievement.
“In the end, Roger ran out of time to get himself ready for the rigours of a Grand Slam,” said Tournament Director Craig Tiley, describing Federer as “very disappointed” by his latest frustration.
“The Australian Open has always held a special place in his heart – remember it was Roger who first called the AO the ‘happy slam’.”
All the best with your recovery @rogerfederer. Look forward to seeing you back at the #AusOpen in 2022. pic.twitter.com/M6L05zF50K
After Federer’s withdrawal was officially confirmed, fans rushed to show their support for the tennis icon, saying that it was prudent to miss the upcoming major in the absence of being fully prepared.
“It makes sense,” wrote one. “He needs to get some matches under his belt before going for more majors. Good time to chase Jimmy Connors’ record.”
It makes sense. He needs to get some matches under his belt before going for more majors. Good time to chase Jimmy Connors 109 titles record.
“He knows his body best, so wise decision. And with covid still relevant, wishing him good rest, and come back stronger,” another fan added.
“He knows what is best for him. As fans, we would be disappointed. But considering the situation he is in, it is the right decision. He will come back strongly.”
He knows his body best, so wise decision. And with covid still relevant, wishing him good rest, and come back stronger.
He knows what is best for him. As fans, we would be disappointed. But, considering the situation he is in, it is, to me, a right decision. He would come back strongly. Best wishes to him for his speedy recovery.
It remains unknown when Federer will return to action but, according to his agent Tony Godsick, the player hopes to return next season.
The Swiss star, widely known for his gentlemanly behavior on and off the tennis court, has been hailed for kind gestures, such as when he sent a birthday gift to a 100-year-old fan.
The tennis legend sent a personally signed greeting card to Maria-Louisa De Belder of Belgium, who was celebrating her birthday on Christmas.
The woman was stunned by the surprise gift thanking her tennis idol for making her anniversary unforgettable.
“This really made my day a good one, because it’s a lonely affair,” she admitted. “I can’t believe he wrote that card just for me.
“You know, I also met my husband at the tennis club at the time. That sport has already brought me a lot of beautiful moments.”