Roger Federer receives message from rival Novak Djokovic after injury bombshell
Roger Federer has received a message of support from rival Novak Djokovic after the Swiss legend revealed his lengthy timeline to comeback from injury.
Federer told Swiss media he is unlikely to return to competition until mid-2022, stating he would be 'extremely surprised' if he competed at Wimbledon.
The 40-year-old is recovering from multiple knee surgeries and has not won a Grand Slam since securing a record 20th major win at the Australian Open in 2018, and doubts continue to grow over his future within the sport.
After his announcement, Djokovic was quick to send a public message of support to his long-term rival, insisting tennis is a better sport with Federer competing on-court.
"Roger is an icon of our sport and people around the world love him," the world number one said after clinching a semi-final berth at the ATP Finals. "They love watching him play, love seeing him around.
"He's very important for our sport on and off the court. For the sake of our sport, I sincerely hope that we can see him play at least another time.
"I’m sure he doesn't want to end his career this way. I think he's going to definitely give it a last push, a last try.
"For everything he has achieved and created for this sport, he deserves to play and deserves to have a proper farewell."
Prior to Djokovic's supportive words, Federer had revealed his frustrations with the comeback. He ruled himself out of the upcoming Australian Open and cast severe doubts over his participation at Wimbledon, which he has won eight times.
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"The truth is that I would be incredibly surprised if I were to play at Wimbledon," the 20-time Grand Slam champion said. "Australia is not an option at all, but that’s no surprise to me.
He added: "The doctors say I will be able to jog lightly in January…then in March or April I can start training again in a tennis-like way.
"To be clear, my world will not collapse if I never play in another Grand Slam final – but it is still my ultimate dream to return once again.
"And in fact, I still believe in it. I believe in these kinds of miracles
Meanwhile, Djokovic booked his place in the final four of the ATP Finals in Turin with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Russian star Andrey Rublev on Wednesday.
Djokovic is attempting to equal Federer's record of six titles at the season-ending ATP Finals. He is top of his group with two wins from two and will face Britain's Cameron Norrie in his final group game on Friday.
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