In a year full of bad news in the tennis world, the trend continued on Tuesday, as Roger Federer took to his Facebook page to announce that he has been advised to miss the rest of the 2016 season for his long-term outlook:
Some in the tennis world had wondered about Federer’s health after his leg appeared to give out late in his five-set Wimbledon semifinal loss to Milos Raonic, though his statement gives no specifics as to the state of his knee (or his balky back).
The news means Federer, who turns 35 in a couple weeks, will miss the Rio Olympics, where he was aiming for his first gold medal in singles, one of only three top trophies missing from his cabinet (Monte Carlo and Rome the others), though he does own singles silver from 2012 and doubles gold from 2008 with Stan Wawrinka. Federer was also slated to play both doubles events, the men’s with Wawrinka again and the mixed with Martina Hingis, a pairing tennis fans were excited for, regardless of rooting interests.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion finishes 2016 with a 21-7 record in just seven tournaments, with one final at the 250 event in Brisbane to start the season. He followed that with a spirited performance against a flawless Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semifinals, after which he needed left knee surgery, missing Dubai, Rotterdam, Indian Wells and Miami.
He returned with a decent run to the Monte Carlo quarterfinals, but missed Madrid, citing back problems as a result of compensating for his knee. Following a failed test run in Rome, Federer withdrew from Roland Garros, snapping his men’s record of 65 straight majors played. Upon shifting to his beloved grass, he made progress but took surprising semifinal losses to youngsters Dominic Thiem and Sascha Zverev. At Wimbledon, he came from two sets down and saved a trio of match points against Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, then saw the tables turn, squandering a lead against Raonic in the semifinals.
One of the most durable athletes of the last 20 years, Federer’s continued injuries this year means a host of prestigious streaks will come to an end:
-15 straight seasons with an ATP title, an Open Era record. (Next is Ivan Lendl with 14. Rafael Nadal’s streak is active at 13, with Djokovic and Andy Murray also active at 11 each. All three have already extended their streaks for this season).
-Streak of top 10 seasons (all in the top 6 too) will end at 14, second only to Jimmy Connors’ 16. Only Connors and Andre Agassi (also 16) have more total top 10 seasons. Also:
Federer will leave the top 10 (in november most likely) for the first time since october 2002.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) July 26, 2016
This means he will fall short of passing Connors for most consecutive weeks in the top 10. Jimbo’s streak finished at 788, while Federer currently sits at 720. Nadal is the next closest active streak at 588. As for the top 5, Federer will drop out either after Cincinnati or the U.S. Open.
-Just the second season since 2003 in which Federer will not reach a Grand Slam final (2013, when back pain also troubled him).
-First time not qualifying for the World Tour Finals (top 8 players) since 2001.
-Will miss the U.S. Open for the first time since 1999, when he did not make it out of qualifying.
-First year since 2003 without a Federer-Nadal match and first time since 2011 (and 2007 before that) without a Federer-Murray match.
Federer will likely finish 2016 ranked somewhere in the late teens, though he will have a major chunk of his points to defend in January at Brisbane and the Australian Open. His return should come at the country-based Hopman Cup exhibition, where he will play on behalf of Switzerland.