Roger Federer’s coach has revealed that the 41-year-old was “never 100 per cent” when he first returned from double knee surgery last year. The former world No 1 played just five tournaments before ending his season to undergo a third surgery but was never able to mount a comeback, instead playing one final doubles match at last month’s Laver Cup before retiring.
Federer recently hung up his racket and waved farewell to professional tennis at the Laver Cup. The 20-time Grand Slam champion had been sidelined by a right knee injury on-and-off since the start of 2020, ending his season after the Australian Open that year and having two surgeries.
He then returned in Doha last March, playing just five tournaments before ending his 2021 season after Wimbledon when he suffered a “setback” with the knee, prompting him to have a third surgery. But the 41-year-old announced last month that he had to listen to his body as he decided to retire, with his knee failing to get back to the level he desired.
And Federer’s coach of six years has now revealed that the 103-time title winner wasn’t fine during his short-lived comeback in 2021, despite reaching the second week of both Wimbledon and the French Open. “The problem was that last year, when he came back in Doha, he was never 100 per cent,” Ivan Ljubicic told Punto De Break.
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And Ljubicic admitted that Federer’s failed attempt at a return in 2021 contributed to his recent decision to retire, as the Croat said a comeback of the same level “was not an option” for the 20-time Grand Slam winner.
Reflecting on his charge’s decision to end his career, Ljubicic added: “Personally, for me it is the end of an era, wonderful, because what Roger did or gave to tennis is much more than the numbers that I personally don’t like to talk about.”