Roger Federer will skip the 2021 Australian Open in February, as the 39-year-old continues to recover from two knee operations earlier this year.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion plans to return to tour play later in the winter in the hopes of putting together yet another competitive season.
Federer Plans Late February Return
Federer’s representative, Tony Godsick, released a statement detailing the Swiss legend’s plans for the coming season.
“Roger has decided not to play the 2021 Australian Open. He has made strong progress in the last couple of months with his knee and his fitness,” Godsick told the Associated Press. “However, after consultation with his team, he decided that the best decision for him in the long run is to return to competitive tennis after the Australian Open. I will start discussions this coming week for tournaments that begin in late February, and then start to build a schedule for the rest of the year.”
Australian Open organizers confirmed that Federer had officially withdrawn from the tournament.
“We wish him all the best as he prepares for his comeback later in the year, and look forward to seeing him in Melbourne in 2022,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement.
Federer last played competitively in January, when he reached the semifinals of the 2020 Australian Open. Already nursing an injury, he lost in straight sets to Novak Djokovic, who would go on to win the tournament. Federer played one more exhibition with Rafael Nadal in South Africa, but then had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He later had a second surgery on the same knee, missing the remainder of the 2020 season.
Australian Open Welcomes Back Andy Murray
Djokovic already stood as the clear favorite to win the 2021 Australian Open, and Federer’s withdrawal only strengthens that position. While Federer no longer rates as the top choice to win Grand Slams given his age, he was one of the few players oddsmakers saw as a threat to Djokovic on hard courts.
FanDuel Sportsbook currently lists Djokovic as a +110 pick to win in Melbourne. Three likely contenders sit relatively close behind him: Daniil Medvedev (+500), Dominic Thiem (+550), and Nadal (+550).
|2021 Australian Open Odds – Men’s Winner|
|Novak Djokovic: +110|
|Daniil Medvedev: +500|
|Dominic Thiem: +550|
|Rafael Nadal: +550|
|Alexander Zverev: +1400|
|Stefanos Tsitsipas: +1400|
|Andrey Rublev: +2300|
|Nick Kyrgios: +2500|
A familiar dark horse will also be competing at the 2021 Australian Open. Officials have awarded Andy Murray with a wild-card entry to the tournament.
The 33-year-old, three-time Grand Slam winner announced his likely retirement after losing in the first round of the 2019 Australian Open. However, he decided to go a hip resurfacing surgery, one that initially allowed him to play doubles competitively. When Murray realized how comfortable he felt, he began competing in singles play as well, winning the European Open in Antwerp in October 2019.
Murray enters the Australian Open as a +3800 long shot to win the title, according to FanDuel.
“We welcome Andy back to Melbourne with open arms,” Tiley said in a statement. “His retirement was an emotional moment and seeing him come back, having undergone major surgery and built himself back up to get on to the tour again, will be a highlight of AO 2021.”