Roger Federer set for unwanted record next week as Australian Open gets underway

Roger Federer to miss US Open and undergo knee surgery

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Roger Federer is on the verge of an unwanted career landmark after failing to recover from injury in time for the Australian Open. The build-up to the first Grand Slam of the season has been dominated by the visa saga of Novak Djokovic, with the Serbian still waiting to see if he will be allowed to remain down under and compete.

World no 1 Djokovic sparked controversy when he announced last Tuesday he would be playing in Melbourne despite not being vaccinated against Covid-19, having gained a medical exemption to take part.

However, upon his arrival on Wednesday his visa was revoked by border force officials, but an order for him to be deported was delayed when his lawyers launched an appeal.

On Monday, with Djokovic having spent five nights in a Government detention hotel, a judge ruled in his favour but immigration minister Alex Hawke still has the power to cancel his visa a second time, and is expected to make his decision on Wednesday.

Should the Serbian end up competing and proceed to win the tournament, he will move clear of Federer and Rafael Nadal with 21 Grand Slam titles, with the trio all sharing the current record.

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Nadal will be playing in Melbourne after recovering from ankle problems, and Covid-19, but the frenzy around Djokovic has overshadowed the absence of Federer.

The Swiss legend has not played since announcing he was undergoing knee surgery in August, ruling him out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and US Open in September.

And his inactivity means he is now on the brink of dropping out of the top 20 for the first time since 2001, and only the second time in his storybook career.

Federer, 40, is 16th in the ATP rankings with 2,385, just 45 ahead of World No. 21 Pablo Carreno Busta. Roberto Bautista Agut, Cristian Garin, and Gael Monfis all lie between him and the Spaniard.

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All four of those players will be in the main draw at the Australian Open, meaning all will be in with a chance of surpassing Federer, or at the very least closing the gap, by the time the tournament is over.

Should he even fall to 18th, it will represent his worst ATP ranking since January 2017, although he responded that year by winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon that year and by early 2018, he had regained his no 1 spot.

This time around though it’s not a situation that Federer, with just 19 matches behind him in the past two years, is going to be able to rectify soon as he targets a return to action prior to the Slam at SW19 – which starts on June 28.

Unlike Djokovic however, one thing Federer won’t have to worry about when he returns is any mandate on vaccinations, having previously been open about receiving both jabs.

“Yes, I’m vaccinated,” he told reporters last year.

“I am happy to have been able to do it with all the trips I take.

“Even if I’m staying in Switzerland, I think there are advantages. Above all, I did it for others because I don’t want to give it to anyone else, even if I still remain very careful.”

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