Tennis: Hobbled Roger Federer non-committal on playing future

Tennis great Roger Federer has cast doubt on his playing future, after struggling to recover from a knee injury he sustained earlier this year.  

The Swiss maestro has been plagued by injuries over the back half of his career and has undergone three surgeries for his troublesome leg this year alone. 

Speaking at the Swiss Sports Awards overnight Sunday (NZ time), Federer shocked the sporting world by suggesting that he may have played his final match. 

"I hope that in 2021 I will return to the courts, but we will see," Federer said.

"But if my career had to end here [Swiss Sports Awards], well it would be incredible to end it with this award."

But Federer added that he's still working hard to be fit for the year's first major, the Australian Open, which is expected to be delayed until February 8.

"It will be complicated for the Australian Open," he said. 

"I don't want to take the next step until I'm ready. These three weeks could help me a bit."

"It's a race against time for the Australian Open… we'll see."

The 20-time Grand Slam champion hasn't played since his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January. 

Even now he admits he is far from 100 percent fit, despite doing everything in his power to return to his best.

"Let's see how the next two months will unfold. I've been doing a lot of physio and physical work lately, now let's see how tennis is doing."

"I didn’t have any setbacks since the second operation. I’ve made constant progress over the last six months," the 39-year-old said.

In recent weeks, Federer has reportedly been practising, but his recovery has been much slower than it was in 2016, when he missed the Olympics and the US Open with knee problems, before returning to win the 2017 Australian Open.

"I would have hoped I would be 100 percent by October but I'm not today," he said.

"I wish I was more ready but at the same time I’m happy where I stand. We had a plan and decided to take as much time as we need."

Turning 40-years-old next August, Federer said his 2021 priorities remain Wimbledon, the US Open and Tokyo Olympics, where he will be bidding for a first singles gold medal, the only major prize still eluding him.