File picture: Serena Williams of the US returns the ball to Kristie Ahn of the US throughout their ladies’s singles first spherical tennis match on the Philippe Chatrier courtroom on Day 2 of The Roland Garros 2020 French Open tennis match in Paris on September 28, 2020.
MARTIN BUREAU / AFP
Having endured a 2020 wipeout and seen Rafael Nadal equal his file of 20 Grand Slams, Roger Federer will edge in direction of his 40th birthday in 2021 together with his eyes on an elusive Olympic singles gold medal regardless of fears over his long-term health.
Federer performed only one match this 12 months, a bumpy run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open, earlier than knee surgical procedure put him on the sidelines.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which induced a five-month shutdown in addition to the cancellation of his beloved Wimbledon, pressured him to name time on his season.
On the tour since 1998, Federer shall be 40 on August 8, only a week after the lads’s remaining on the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.
“The big plan is to be there for the Olympics. It’s one of my big goals,” mentioned Federer.
“Maybe it’s a little selfish, but it’s not a bad thing it was moved because of all the problems this year.”
Unlike Nadal, Federer has but to win a singles gold on the Olympics though he did seize the doubles title with Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka in Beijing in 2008.
Nadal, whose thirteenth triumph on the delayed French Open in October additionally took him to twenty Slams, has little question that his rival and shut buddy stays a drive.
“He has nothing more to prove, he has already shown that whenever he is well he can play at the highest level,” mentioned the 34-year-old Spaniard.
Spain’s Rafael Nadal (L) performs a return to Switzerland’s Roger Federer (R) throughout their tennis match at The Match in Africa on the Cape Town Stadium, in Cape Town on February 7, 2020.
RODGER BOSCH / AFP
Federer has different objectives. His haul of 103 titles is simply six in need of Jimmy Connors’ all-time mark of 109.
Another Grand Slam title in 2021 would additionally make him the oldest man ever to win a serious.
Ken Rosewall, who was 37 years and 67 days outdated when he received the Australian Open in 1972, presently boasts that distinction.
If Federer is to interrupt that mark then Wimbledon, the place he has been victorious eight occasions, stays the more than likely stage.
World primary Novak Djokovic shall be most individuals’s alternative for a ninth Australian Open, at any time when the match, nonetheless beneath a coronavirus shadow, takes place.
Federer admits that the 2021 Grand Slam season opener in Melbourne might come too quickly as his restoration from two knee surgical procedures takes longer than anticipated.
“It’s a race against time. Of course, it would help if I had a little bit more time. But it’s going to be close,” Federer mentioned at a weekend awards ceremony in Switzerland.
“I would have hoped that I’d be at a 100 percent already in October. But I’m not at this level even today. It will be a close call for the Australian Open.”
Nadal shall be favorite to win once more at Roland Garros the place he has 100 wins and simply two losses in 15 years.
Federer is a five-time US Open winner however the final of his titles in New York got here in 2008.
Since then Nadal has been champion 4 occasions and Djokovic on three events.
Serena eyes Court file
The Serb was favorite to win a fourth US Open title in September earlier than his notorious disqualification.
US celebrity Serena Williams additionally reaches 40 in 2021 on September 26 — two weeks after the conclusion of the US Open.
Williams will as soon as once more try to tug stage with Margaret Court as a 24-time Grand Slam champion.
Her final triumph on the majors got here in Australia in 2017 when she was pregnant.
Since then, it’s been a case of ‘almost, but not quite’ with losses in all 4 Slam finals she has reached.
Williams’s most up-to-date Wimbledon victory — her seventh — was in 2016.
Her final US Open win was 2014 whereas her most up-to-date title run in Paris was in 2015.
In 2020, her Grand Slam file was a combined bag — a 3rd spherical exit in Australia and an Achilles damage withdrawal after one win at Roland Garros sandwiching a semi-final run on the US Open.
“I’m pretty good at it still and I’m so close to some things, so I feel like I’m almost there. I think that’s what keeps me going,” mentioned Williams in Paris.
Having made her tour bow in 1998, this 12 months noticed Williams fail to make a Grand Slam remaining for the primary time since 2006.
A former world primary, Williams ended 2020 at 11 on the earth.
Should she determine to name time on her skilled profession, her legacy is not going to be broken, say her rivals.
“She’s a great champion,” mentioned world quantity 5 Elina Svitolina.
“It’s very tough to say something else because all the time that I play against her, it’s a big privilege.”