Roger Federer made his come back to the ATP Tour in March by participating in the Doha tournament, where he reached the quarter-finals by relinquishing a comeback to Nikoloz Basilashvili. After a further training block in Dubai, the Swiss phenomenon traveled to Geneva to start the clay court season.
His run, however, came to an abrupt halt on his debut at the hands of Pablo Andujar. Contrary to expectations on the eve, the former world number 1 flew to Paris for Roland Garros, in what represented his first major since the Australian Open 2020.
His ride into the French capital was more than dignified, as King Roger hit the round of 16 before announcing a precautionary retirement. The strides shown at the French Open were almost wiped out by the premature defeat in Halle, a tournament in which Federer had triumphed ten times.
The 39-year-old from Basel left the scene in the second round at the hands of Felix Auger-Aliassime, as well as having missed the appointment with the quarters for the first time since 2001. In a recent interview granted to MARCA, Toni Nadal made the point on the state of form of the Maestro on the eve of Wimbledon.
Toni Nadal said: "As is normal, it is not easy for a player of his age to play a series of games in the best of five sets. Roger Federer has enough qualities to beat anyone, but I don't know if he is still capable of playing more intense matches for two weeks .
On the other hand, with Roger you can always expect anything. He has proven this several times throughout his career. This time I have some more doubts. I saw him play in Halle against Felix and in the third set his difficulties were evident."
Federer's Wimbledon debut is scheduled for Tuesday against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Following would be Richard Gasquet or the Japanese Sugita.
Wilander: "Roger Federer had a bad body language in Halle"
The grass season certainly did not start in the best way for Roger Federer, who left the scene in the second round in Halle.
It was even since 2001 that the Swiss champion did not leave the German tournament before the quarter-finals. The defeat at the hands of Felix Auger-Aliassime showed alarming signs less than a week from Wimbledon, which represents the great goal of his season together with the Tokyo Olympics.
As if that were not enough, the former world number 1 showed up two hours late at the press conference, explaining that he needed to swallow the progress of the third set before speaking to the media. The 39-years-old from Basel will be seeded number 7 at the Championships, which kick off next Monday after last year's cancellation (due to the global pandemic).
Many wonder if it will be his last performance of him on Church Road, where he will try to win the ninth trophy of his unrivaled career. Speaking on Eurosport, Alex Corretja and Mats Wilander said they were concerned about the body language manifested by the Swiss.
Corretja said: "My main fear is that he still doesn't feel 100% physically secure. He needs a very convincing first week at Wimbledon to get the pace to play 100% in the decisive rounds. In that case he would become dangerous, but there are many players who can hurt him right now.
In past years, however, there were only two or three rivals who could beat him." Wilander focused on Roger Federer's attitude: "I had only seen that body language once against Gustavo Kuerten at Roland Garros.
The fact that he has pointed the finger at himself is not a positive sign. That body language fuels the confidence of his opponents, because it seemed he didn't want to fight to the end. A 21-year-old boy is willing to stay on the pitch for 5 hours just to beat Federer."