Federer won’t retire in 2021, according to coach Luthi

hannahwilks in News 20 Jul 2020
Roger Federer will return to action (Credit Image: © Jason Heidrich/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

Roger Federer is unlikely to retire in 2021 and should be expected to play a full season, according to his coach Severin Luthi.

Federer, who will turn 39 this week, is always surrounded by retirement speculation, which has been further fuelled by the events of the 2020 season. First, Federer underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in February and declared he would not play until the grass-court season; then the season was suspended in mid-March due to the global health crisis; thirdly, Federer needed to have a second surgery after his recovery from the first one did not go as well as expected, and announced he would not play in 2020 despite the ATP Tour planning to resume in August.

But long-time coach Severin Luthi, who has also served as Switzerland’s Davis Cup captain since 2005, believes that despite multiple surgeries and the prospect of turning 40 while still competing on the ATP Tour, Federer’s retirement is not imminent.

Talking to Swiss magazine Smash, Luthi said:

‘Roger still loves life on the circuit, I’ve never heard him say that he should stop because he wants a change of lifestyle or that he’s tired of travelling.

‘Nothing can be 100% ruled out but given that he still loves tennis and the time he spends with the friends that he has everywhere, I don’t think he’s thinking of retiring in 2021.’

Luthi’s comments are backed up by an interview Federer recently gave to the Business of Fashion podcast to promote a new trainer, in which Federer revealed he was embarking on a 20-week fitness training block in order to prepare for 2021 and talked about his enduring passion for his tennis life:

‘[A]s long as I know I’m not taking long-term risks on my health, my four kids are doing great, my wife is happy I’m still pursuing my dreams and she’s very supportive of that fact and we can manage all the travels with the family and everybody, and I truly still have full-blown passion to play and I believe I can compete with the best, beat the best and still win the biggest tournaments, I’m honestly really willing to give it a go.’

Federer and his team have a very solid precedent for believing that the 20-time champion can come back from a lengthy hiatus and quickly regain his best form – he’s done it before. In 2016, Federer shut down his season after Wimbledon, having undergone surgery on his left knee earlier in the year. When he returned to competition in January 2017, he won his first major title in five years at the Australian Open, defeating long-time nemesis Rafael Nadal in the final. He went on to win Wimbledon the same year.

Luthi said:

‘It’s true, there are parallels with 2016. Perhaps he could use that to his advantage. The truth is that this injury arrived at the best possible moment.

‘The day after the operation he was looking forward to a new phase in which he would spend him with his family. He has a unique capacity to be very ambitious without getting frustrated with the unexpected.’

Could history repeat itself and see Federer return from sabbatical to triumph at the 2021 Australian Open?