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Wimbledon || Roger Federer: Maybe One Last Big Tournament

Will Roger Federer end his career? He will probably continue despite the tough quarter-final at Wimbledon - but only if he can improve.

Another respectful handshake on the net, then Roger Federer packed his tennis utensils (in less than 15 seconds) and headed for the exit of the Center Court. "One more year, one more year," shouted some fans. Federer did a pirouette, waved once around and disappeared into the catacombs.

The fact that Federer even made it into the quarter-finals of Wimbledon demands all respect. Before his comeback in the spring, he suffered a persistent knee injury for a year and a half. Federer will be 40 in one month, an astronomical age for top athletes. After the end of the game, it was about one thing above all: Federer's possible end of career.

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The second question was whether it was the last time he played on Center Court at Wimbledon. "I don't know. I really don't know," replied Federer. He must first recover from what happened.

Federer had to undergo two operations on his knee in 2020, so-called arthroscopies. The second intervention, even bigger than the first, was unplanned. Federer immediately declared the season over. The pandemic had not allowed professional tennis into August anyway. After a few complications, Federer only made his Grand Slam comeback at the French Open 2021 after 487 days, which he saw in his own words as preparation for his season highlight at Wimbledon. His goal in the past year and a half has always been to play Wimbledon again. "I did it this year, I'm very happy about that."

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After all the hard work, especially at this age, it was clear before the tournament: even a quarter-finals would be a success. And Federer made it to the quarterfinals. There he played against the Pole Hubert Hurkacz, an aspiring player who won his first Masters title in March. Before Wimbledon, Hurkacz lost six times in a row, but he played his first time in the second week of a Grand Slam. On Wednesday he gave Federer few chances, 3: 6, 6: 7 (4) and 0: 6 it was at the end. The third set lasted less than 30 minutes and became a burden for everyone involved. The last games on Wednesday were tough, said Federer disappointed but composed. "When you realize that you won't be coming back - I'm not used to a situation like that, especially not here."

Here, at Wimbledon, Federer has won eight times alone, most recently in 2017, when he was 36. He has not won any Grand Slam more often, he made it to the semi-finals 14 times. In 1998 he won the junior event in singles and doubles, three years later he defeated Pete Sampras in his first appearance on Center Court. It was a changing of the guard. In 2003, the first Grand Slam title followed on the Holy Lawn. Today there are 20, the record he shares with Rafael Nadal, Novak Đoković could draw level at this Wimbledon tournament. The Serb is again in a brutally constant form, even the great Denis Shapovalov will hardly be able to endanger him in the semifinals. If Đoković wins, there will be additional momentum in the question of who is the best player on this planet.

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Federer dominated the noughties, Nadal and Đoković the past ten years. They have the age advantage on their side. The Swiss national hero nonetheless interfered time and again. In 2017 he won after a leg injury in Melbourne and Wimbledon, in 2018 he repeated his triumph at the Australian Open and soon after became the oldest world number one in history. And he did not resign even after one of his bitterest defeats, the 2019 Wimbledon final against Đoković. At that time, Federer awarded two match balls. That was also two years ago.

Now, in 2021, it's about a self-determined end of career - and above all about the right time for it. Federer didn't say it, but at the press conference it was clear that he didn't want to stop yet.

The Swiss journalists who accompanied the part of the press round in Swiss German know even more details: Federer explained to them that he would now reflect: "Was it as good as I thought? Worse? How should the journey continue?" He wants to analyze this together with his team, everyone should have their say, his trainers Severin Lüthi and Ivan Ljubičić, as well as his doctors and the fitness trainer.

Federer has proven that he can still win games. But honorable as the quarterfinals are under the overall circumstances, they don't satisfy the superstar. He is interested in a perspective at the highest level.

"I'm happy with what I've achieved here at Wimbledon. I would have liked to have achieved more, but it just wasn't possible," he said. "In the end I realized that something was missing. I still can't move as well as I would like." Above all, he was dissatisfied with the defensive performance.

Olympic gold would be a goal, if not a realistic one

It seems like Federer is still looking for ways to improve. Only when he finds her will he continue playing. There are still two highlights of the season to come. First, the Olympic Games at the end of July in the home of his Japanese equipment supplier, which has allegedly been paying him 30 million US dollars a year since 2018. Olympic gold in singles is missing from Federer's otherwise bulging portfolio, that could be a goal, even if not a realistic one. He said he wanted to publish a statement about participation sooner rather than later. In addition to the sporting perspective, he is probably interested in the family factor. The father of four would have to do without his family for a long time at the games.

The last Grand Slam tournament of the year takes place in August, the US Open, which Federer last won 13 years ago. It cannot be ruled out that he will play the Olympics and the US Open, but it is more likely that he will choose one of the two. Maybe tennis fans will have one last big tournament with Roger Federer.

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