Roger Federer turns 39 on Saturday with the Swiss confessing that his time at home since the tennis COVID-19 shutdown has turned into the longest “idle” period of his life.
“I haven’t had this long at home in 25 years. We’re safe because we’re up in the mountains and don’t see anybody,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion told Miami Living magazine in a cover story.
“I’ve been very strict and serious about the rules. I haven’t seen my parents in three months now, and we’ve been chasing around after the kids the best we can on our own.
“I think this strange time has given us a chance to reflect and take stock of what really matters, which is family, friends, health, and happiness.”
Many would say that Federer’s timing could not have been more perfect, with his ATP season halted after January’s Australian Open due to a medical intervention on his right knee.
As it turned out, he needed another procedure in June and later announced he would not return to the ATP until 2021.
But with Tour tennis shut down from March until mid-August, he’s barely missed a thing.
With Federer out of the US Open – whose bosses hope to stage in the virus-hotbed US from August 31 and Rafael Nadal withdrawing out of a disinclination to travel from his Mallorca island base during the pandemic, the New York Slam – if it can be held – will set a minor record.
The event will be the first Grand Slam without either Federer or Nadal entered since the Open in 1999, when both icons were budding teenaged talents.
The event might find itself dealing with more major pullouts in the coming weeks though.
Reports indicate that No. 1 Novak Djokovic told a hush-hush Whatsapp conference with fellow top players, suggesting that unless authorities can work out a way for competitors not to have to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Europe from the US, then a boycott could be in the works.
The looming scheduling problem concerns both the provisional post-Open Rome Masters next month September and the rescheduled French Open due to begin in Paris on September 27.