Roger Federer felt 'horrible' playing injured vs. Novak Djokovic in Aussie Open semifinals



Roger Federer had a rough exit in the Australian Open. Despite his strong start to his semifinal match against Novak Djokovic, the 38-year-old Swiss player lost Thursday in straight sets, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-3, as he battled through some muscle issues in his groin and leg.

Surely fatigued, Federer’s two of the last three matches leading up to the semifinal were five-set thrillers that featured multiple tiebreakers. First, he beat Australia’s John Millman in the third round after fighting back from being down, 8-4, in the final-set tiebreak to win his 100th Aussie Open match.

Then in the quarterfinals against American Tennys Sandgren, he saved seven match points in the fourth set before winning, but his body was struggling to keep up. Afterward, Federer explained that his groin and leg muscles were tightening up, and, although he wouldn’t say it was an injury, he described it as “pain and problems.”

Despite speculation to the contrary, Federer said in his post-semifinal press conference that he didn’t doubt he’d play against Djokovic, and explained: “I don’t think I would have gone on court if I felt like I had no chance to win.”

He said he wasn’t in pain ahead of the match, though that changed in the second and third sets. But he finished and still has never retired during a match in his career, an “amazing” stat, as Djokovic put it.

When asked to reflect on his tournament performance, Federer said:

“At the end of the day, I guess I’m very happy. I’ve gotta be happy with what I achieved. I think it was the maximum to go to get to this tournament, especially after the Millman and the Sandgren match. Today was horrible to go through what I did. Nice entrance, nice sendoff, and in between, it’s one to forget just because you know you have a three percent chance to win.

“Gotta go for it, you never know, but once you can see it coming that it’s not going to work anymore, it’s tough. But look at the end of the day, I’m very happy. I think I, overall, played all right. I know I can play better, but at the same time, also I know I can play much worse.”

Although Federer was clearly having mobility issues — as Djokovic noted after his win and praised his opponent for still playing — he doesn’t think the problems are too serious, and he said expects to be back to 100 percent “rather quickly.”

He holds the record for most Grand Slams won in men’s singles with 20 — but Nadal (19) and Djokovic (16 going into Sunday’s final) are on his heels — and he said he definitely feels like he could win one or two more. His most recent Grand Slam title was the 2018 Australian Open, but he made it to the French Open semifinals and Wimbledon final last year, before losing, respectively, to eventual champions Nadal and Djokovic.

Asked about how confident he is about returning to the Australian Open, Federer said:

“You never know what the future holds, especially at my age you don’t know. But I’m confident. I’m happy how I’m feeling, to be honest. Got through a good, nice training block. No plans to retire, so from that standpoint, we’ll see how the year goes and how everything’s with the family and go from there. So of course I hope to be back.”

Here’s his full post-match press conference:

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Via OverwatchWire


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