Roger Federer’s ranking will drop to fifth on Monday – the lowest standing for the 20-time Grand Slam champion since March, 2019.

The only factor keeping the Swiss in the elite mix is the emergency ATP ranking rule adopted in the spring as the COVID-19 pandemic caused Tour tennis to pause for what turned out to be four months.

Upon the return in August, the sanctioning body decreed that the current ranking table would apply into March, 2021, with players holding onto their current standing.

That means they are able to earn but can only use one result from any given tournament in either 2019 or 2020.

With the 39-year-old Federer out for the count since January after his first knee operation, the ruling dove-tailed perfectly with his months of recovery and rehab.

The former No. 1 is due back on court in January’s Australian Open, assuming the Grand Slam is able to work around the country’s no-nonsense virus quarantine and no inbound traffic policies.

Meanwhile, Team Federer are working to be ready for the Open in January.

Coach Ivan Ljubicic told Italian website OKtennis that Federer expects to be fighting fit for Melbourne,

““He is in the recovery phase and I would say that things are going in the best way,” the Croatian said.

“He trains more and more and better and better, I’m curious to see how much we will be able to push in the coming months. There is a lot of confidence.”

 Ljubicic, who rarely speaks to media,  added that the player’s schedule after Australia remains undecided.

“I know we want to leave as soon as possible, play a big Australian Open and then evaluate step by step.

“It is important to go step by step and observe rest periods. As we have always done.”

Players entering Australia are certain to face a minimum 14-day quarantine, which means a December arrival in Melbourne and possibly more than a month in the country in some cases.

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