Roger Federer unwanted milestone confirmed as Swiss star’s return faces uphill battle

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Roger Federer 'not the player he was' says Rupert Bell

Roger Federer has dropped to his lowest world ranking since January 2017. Federer, 40, who has 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, has not played since losing to Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon this year.

Ironically, it is Hurkacz who has now dealt him another body blow, after the 24-year old beat Frances Tiafoe in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

That result means he will now leapfrog Federer in the world rankings, knocking the Swiss legend out of the top 10 for the first time in 246 weeks.

And the damage isn’t done yet. There is still no apparent timescale on when Federer will return to competitive action, and despite saying “the worst is behind me,” his participation in the 2022 Australian Open in January remains in doubt.

He is already ruled out of the remainder of the 2021 season though, he will inevitably tumble further down the rankings, and before the year is out will drop a total of 900 points from his 2019 Basel Open title and ATP Finals appearance.

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He is now in grave danger of falling to his lowest ranking since June 2001, more than 20 years ago, when the then 19-year-old was 18 in the world.

The Basel-born star last dropped out of the top 10 during an injury plagued 2016 season, but put that to rights with victory at the 2017 Australian Open.

He also captured Wimbledon that year, and then in 2018 successfully defended his title in Melbourne, which capitulated him back into the world no 1 spot at the age of 36.

Back in August, Federer took to social media to tell fans he would be undergoing under the knife for the third operation on his knee in 18 months.

“I want to be healthy,” he declared in a short video clip.

“I want to be running around later, as well, again, and I want to give myself a glimmer of hope, also, to return to the tour in some shape or form. I am realistic, don’t get me wrong. I know how difficult it is at this age right now to do another surgery and try it.”

He at least remains the joint-record holder when it comes to Grand Slam wins, following Novak Djokovic’s failure to win his US Open final against Daniil Medvedev.

 

Rafael Nadal, who like Federer and Djokovic also sits on 20 major titles, was also absent at Flushing Meadows with injury.

And regardless of whether he appears down under, Federer may still not be surpassed by the Serbian, with his current participation in doubt over his apparent refusal to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

Hurkacz meanwhile, whose win over Federer at SW19 saw him make a first ever Slam semi-final, will meet Russian player Aslan Karatsev in the fourth round at Indian Wells.

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