Roger Federer’s Dilemma: Will the third time be the charm?

     “…I hurt myself further during the grass-court season and Wimbledon…Unfortunately I will need surgery, so I decided to do it,” Roger Federer, the former ATP no. 1 in the world frankly said on his social media. It was days ago that the Swiss player wanted to proclaim what no one wanted to hear, especially him. A third knee operation he thinks will seal the deal for having great health again and returning back on court. But there are many tangibles that Federer will have to consider in having the surgery and what the recuperation stage may be.

     Federer’s zest to be healthy again and return on tour have been upstaged with his desire to remain realistic. Recovery and performing at top-notch aren’t a given and there is a doubt as to what the third surgery will bring as a consequence. The Swiss is 40 years old and still feels he may have a strong few more years left in his professional career. The fact of the surgery brings concern, but playing in pain and not successfully going deep into tournaments is the issue also. Playing well and feeling well maybe two separate situations that he would want to come in unison.

     “I want to be healthy. I want to be running around later…I want to give myself a glimmer of hope to return to the tour in some shape or form,” Federer had emphasized. There are just so many surgeries that can be done to fix one’s body. There are also a limited amount of returns on the tour that can be accomplished when the pool of players are young, talented and eager to defeat him. It was in the round of 16 at the Halle Open in June that Federer felt the sting when Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated him in three sets. “It was pretty cool…but as the match went on, I was just really zoned in and locked into the moment and the match…he was missing a little more, I still had to maintain my focus,” the young Canadian explained. The Geneva Open had also proven to Federer’s opponent  Pablo Andujar that this can be accomplished. He captured a victory in the opening match, winning the 3-set first round over the Swiss icon. The French Open was prosperous for Federer as he got up to the fourth round with the young Italian Matteo Berrettini but Fed had to withdraw due to his knee ailment. Berrettini considered it lucky since Federer had defeated him twice before. But the Swiss looked at the withdrawal as a precautionary tactic as he admitted that “After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it’s important that I listen to my body…I am thrilled to have gotten 3 matches under my belt.”

     But time is so important to Federer and it’s now that he wants and needs the surgery. He had gotten through three matches at Roland Garros. Could three be the lucky surgery that will keep Federer on tour and possibly go deep in tournaments again? It’s very difficult to predict but the Swiss feels that it’s worth a try. If it doesn’t work then he knows that retirement may be one of the harshest options despite his desire to get back on tour and play again.