ATP Tour

Top tennis coach and analyst says Roger Federer faces uphill struggle

Roger Federer (PA)
Roger Federer (PA)

Renowned coach and tennis analyst Brad Gilbert believes former world No 1 Roger Federer will struggle to get his mojo back after the coronavirus-enforced break from professional tennis.

Unseeded, struggling to get his "mojo back" and the fact that he will be 39-years-old are just some of the things that "could mean trouble" for Roger Federer when he returns to tennis next year, according to Gilbert, a former coach of Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick.

Federer announced last week that he is to miss the remainder of the 2020 season after suffering a setback following knee surgery.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner, who last played competitive tennis at the Australian Open, underwent an operation on his right knee in February and was hopeful of making a return in mid-June. However, he has had "an additional quick arthroscopic procedure".

Federer confirmed that he is determined to make a comeback in 2021, but Gilbert admits the odds are stacked against him competing at the highest level again.

"I'm not going to write him off, but this is concerning," analyst Gilbert told ESPN. "Thirty-nine ain't what it used to be, that's for sure. But if tennis gets going again, he'll probably be unseeded for the Australian Open in '21 because he played so little early this year. And that could mean trouble."

He continued: "We are in uncharted territory, the way guys are training and taking care of themselves.

"Sure, Ken Rosewall and Jimmy Connors [both played in majors after turning 39], but today's game is more physical, and the players are tougher."

Federer, who will turn 39 in August, is likely to struggle to find his rhythm immediately, warms Gilbert.

"When you take that much time," he said, "even at 25, 26, it can take six months to get your mojo back. It's not like you can take your time at 39, especially if you're not protected by seeding."

- TEAMtalk media

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