Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had to watch the exploits of Novak Djokovic almost helplessly in 2021. By winning three out of four Grand Slams, the world number 1 cleared the gap that separated him from eternal rivals in the all-time Grand Slam standings.
The Serbian also had a great chance to overtake at the US Open, but was defeated by Daniil Medvedev in the final act. Roger played the misery of 13 official matches this year, limited by a knee that doesn't want to leave him alone.
The 40-year-old from Basel ended his season after Wimbledon and has undergone his third surgery in the past 18 months. It didn't go much better for Nadal, who played seven official tournaments in 2021. Despite having managed to put a couple of trophies on his beloved clay court, the Spaniard failed the assault on his 14th Roland Garros.
The 35-year-old from Manacor will make his return to the Abu Dhabi exhibition in December, before flying to Melbourne for the 2022 Australian Open. Interviewed by the Express Sport portal, former ATP number 4 Greg Rusedski analyzed the moment Roger and Rafa are experiencing.
He saisd: "As for Roger Federer, I think he's focused on Wimbledon. He knows very well that he has no chance at Roland Garros, at the US Open or in Australia. In 2019 he came close to the title in London, but failed to take advantage of a couple of match points against Novak Djokovic.
This year he didn't play particularly well in the Championships, but he still made it to the quarter-finals. If he gets back in good shape, he could still have a say about him on the grass. I think this is his great goal.
Rafael Nadal's energies are instead focused on Roland Garros. It is in Paris that he has the best chance of winning his 21st Grand Slam. Right now, Djokovic is out of reach for both Roger and Rafa on hardcourt. We must not forget Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who got very close to Nole."
Wilander: "I doubt Roger Federer will get a Grand Slam final"
Speaking to Eurosport, seven-time Slam champion Mats Wilander expressed some doubts about the competitiveness of Roger Federer, who recently confided that he will resume racing at the beginning of 2022 and training with the racket in March-April, and then come back on the court in the Summer.
His participation in Wimbledon is still in doubt. Wilander said: "I don't think it's impossible for Roger Federer to come back. He has reiterated this himself on more than one occasion, so it would be quite surprising if he doesn't get back on the Tour.
At the same time, I think the biggest problem is that the Next Gen have become really strong. Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev made a further qualitative leap in 2021, they seem ready to reach the top of the ranking. Roger has a huge amount of experience, but I'm not sure it's enough to win at 40-41.
I think Federer can still play three or four great fights, which would be a good reason to come back. However, I doubt that he will be able to reach Grand Slam finals again. He won't have a certain answer until he takes the field against the various Zverevs, Medvedevs, Tsitsipas and all the others.
" 2021 was certainly not the year of rebirth for Roger Federer. The former world number 1 hoped to get some more satisfaction after undergoing two knee surgeries in 2020. The Swiss champion on the other hand, played the misery of 13 official matches, with a far from exciting result of nine wins and four defeats.
His last appearance of him dates back to Wimbledon, where he was clearly beaten by Hurkacz in the quarter-finals. The 20-time Grand Slam champion even suffered a bagel in the third set, which speaks volumes about his current difficulties. Due to a knee relapse, the King was forced to undergo surgery again and to close his season early.