Roger Federer will return in Basel: farewell tour or the beginning of the last great dance?

Roger Federer will be 41 years old in August. The Swiss, for many the best tennis player of all time, has not competed since July 2021, at Wimbledon. Three surgeries on his right knee (two in 2020 and one last August, always due to meniscus damage) placed him in a delicate and unprecedented situation in his career, in which he had avoided severe injuries. But the world of tennis was shaken, because on the same day it became known that Novak Djokovic will be able to play at Wimbledon despite not being vaccinated against Covid-19 and that Rafael Nadal has healed from a rib injury and will compete in Madrid (since Sunday), Federer confirmed his presence, at the end of next October, at the ATP 500 in Baselyour natal city.

Until now, the 20-time Grand Slam champion had only announced that his intention was to return “in the European summer” and participate in the Laver Cup (exhibition contest that he organizes), from September 23 to 25 (after the US Open), at the O2 Arena in London. However, his agenda already has an official circuit date. The Swiss Indoors Basel, scheduled from October 24 to 30, is not just any event for Federer. Ten times champion (plus another five finals), it is the first major tournament in which he began to approach professional players, being a ball catcher. Federer is the great engine of Swiss sport and the tournament held at the multi-purpose stadium St. Jakobshalle is the sporting event with the largest budget and sponsorship in that country. During its rich history (it was created in 1975) Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and William Vilasamong other legends, but with Roger it reached another dimension at every level.

But what meaning can Federer’s comeback in Basel have? It is not clear if the winner of 103 titles will play in other tournaments before the Laver Cup or in the four weeks after that competition until the Swiss Indoors Basel, which was not played in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic (the last champion was , precisely, Federer, in 2019). Can you speculate with a farewell to your audience or is it feasible that your last return to the tour will begin in Basel? There is uncertainty about it. What is known is Federer’s love and commitment to tennis. So, if his knee responds well, he can project that he will continue competing and reach, at least, until Wimbledon 2023 (The former number 1 and current 41st in the ranking dreams of stepping on the All England British turf again, which he dominated like no one else, reaching eight titles).

Federer won the 1,235th victory of his career on October 27, 2019, with a 6-2, 6-2 defeat of Australian Alex de Minaur, in the Basel final. He then played the London Masters that year (he fell in the semis) and the 2020 Australian Open (he lost in the semis). Later, with the Covid-19 outbreak and the cancellation of the tour, the first two surgeries on his right knee followed, in February and June, ending his season. Federer reappeared in 2021 after more than 400 days, in Doha (he lost in the quarterfinals). He then also played in Geneva (he lost in his debut), Roland Garros (round of 16), Halle (second round) and Wimbledon, where on July 7 he lost in the quarterfinals against the Polish Hubert Hurkacz. A few days later he had surgery on his knee for the third time.

Federer and a classic at the ATP in Basel: celebrate with the ball-runners and eat pizza after the tournament. Reuters

Since then, the world of rackets fears that the end has come… The Laver Cup would be his first competition in fourteen months (there he could also play only in doubles, with Nadal, as they already did in 2017 in Prague). Federer will not need an invitation in Basel: he will be included directly in the main draw by the protected ranking (9th) due to his inactivity.

Federer's last role: on July 7, 2021, the Swiss fell to the Pole Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarterfinals and has not played since then.
Federer’s last role: on July 7, 2021, the Swiss fell to the Pole Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarterfinals and has not played since then. Julian Finney – Getty Images Europe

“We had to wait for events that are out of our control, like the pandemic, the war or Roger Federer’s injury. But now we are in a very good mood for this fall,” tournament founder and director Roger Brennwald told the German-language Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger. According to a report written by René Stauffer (journalist and Federer’s biographer), the tournament lost a million dollars due to the cancellation of its last two years. “One of the strengths of a company is the substance to survive financial swings. This policy of prudence and common sense has stood the test of time for decades”, valued Brennwald, who plans to travel to Rome and Paris (Roland Garros) to finish agreeing with other players with a view to the ATP in October.

The world of rackets received the news generated in Basel with euphoria. But there are also other readings regarding Federer’s future. Will it be their farewell tour or will it be the start of one last big dance? Only time (and the Swiss knee) has the answer.

the spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal confirmed his participation in the Madrid Masters 1000, whose main draw will begin next Sunday, at the Caja Mágica. ”Despite arriving just before preparation and being difficult, I really want to play and be at home since the opportunities are few. To try to do it in the best possible way. See you in Madrid ”, announced the winner of 21 Grand Slam trophies on his social networks. The current number 4 in the ranking resigned from competing in the Monte Carlo and Barcelona contests due to a rib injury that he suffered in the last Masters 1000 in Indian Wells.