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Age not on his side, but Federer thinks he has a chance at Wimbledon

Roger Faderer. Photo: wimbledon.com

London, June 27 (MNN) Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer fancies he has a chance at this year’s Wimbledon, a familiar ground for him.

The Swiss player has been seeded number 6 at The Championship, but is trying to make the perfect comeback after two knee operations last year.

He reached an improbable low point earlier this month at Halle, a tournament he has won on 10 occasions previously.

This time he was scuttled in the round of 16 by Felix Auger-Aliassime, with a third set display in which the Swiss was shocked to find his own mental mindset crumbling into negativity.

He has not played since, and – obviously – would not wish for a repeat in his opening joust here against Adrian Mannarino, or in any match anywhere ever again, come to that.

“I had a mental moment… when things derail,” mused Federer, while crediting his opponent for outplaying him.

Yet still it does feel rather extraordinary to hear Federer declare his goal, even temporarily, to be reaching the second week at The Championships.

“I’m actually here at Wimbledon right now and I have a chance. I know if I get rolling, I get into that second week – which is the goal here right now – that I get stronger and stronger as every match goes by, I believe it’s very much possible. I come here feeling mentally strong,” he was quoted by wimbledon.com.

And by the time he delivered that answer, he was already pondered the ongoing question of playing in next month’s Tokyo Olympics in terms which suggest that he is not confident. The key factor — it was plain — is his age.

“We’re going to reassess the situation after Wimbledon,” said Federer, who will be 40 in early August.

“If I play really good here or really bad, it has an impact on how everything might look for the summer. I would like to go to the Olympics, and play as many tournaments as possible.

“But let’s just get through Wimbledon and then decide. I wish I could tell you more. In previous years, it was definitely easier. At the moment things are not as simple as in the past. With age you have to be more selective. You can’t play it all.”

Age, he acknowledged, is the ultimate opponent – the eternal need to find the competitive hunger essential to all elite sportspeople.

“When you have family (he has four children with wife Mirka), it’s much easier to walk away from it all. Everybody goes through ups and downs. Maybe it’s arguably easier to stay happy and motivated when you are in this position.

“Truthfully, I don’t think my goal was to play till 39 or 40 or more. It was maybe more like 35, which was already a high number at the time. I remember a conversation with Pistol (Pete Sampras) 10 years ago. He was wondering how much longer I had left in the tank – this was when I was just hitting 30.

“He was thinking I was coming towards the end because it was normal for him. With all the sacrifice you have to go through, it’s hard to keep pushing for more years on the Tour. I think I made the most of it. I enjoyed my travels, made it fun with Mirka and the family and the team. Persevered somehow.”

For all the talk of struggle, there was no doubting Federer’s pleasure in being at Wimbledon once more, even allowing for the necessary trials of life in the bubble.

“It does feel totally different to the last 20 years I’ve been coming here. Took me some getting used to in the first day or two, where we’re allowed to go, what we’re allowed to do. But now I’ve gotten used to it, I’m embracing it.

“I’ll see about the results, if they’re going to come back. But I still really love it. I still feel a big privilege that I’m actually able to play Wimbledon. If I look back at everything I went through in the last year and a bit, with the injury, and also the pandemic, it’s great that Wimbledon is back on. I’m happy I’m here.”

The Championships kick off on June 28 and will last till July 11.

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