Roger Federer is cautiously optimistic he will be fit for the Australian Open in January.
The Swiss 39-year-old underwent a second knee operation of the year in June, ruling him out for the remainder of 2020.
At the time of surgery the tennis season had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and since the sport restarted Dominic Thiem has claimed his first Grand Slam at the US Open before Rafael Nadal tied Federer on 20 majors when winning his 13th French Open earlier this month.
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Federer is still the world No 4 despite his ongoing absence, and will only return when he feels ready to “100 per cent” compete.
"I'm on the right track," he told Schweizer Illustriete while touring coffee company Jura.
But I don't want to put pressure on myself and take my time. I will only enter tournaments when I am 100 percent fit. At the moment, it looks like I can come back at the Australian Open.
Federer said he is feeling no pain while training, although he has focused mainly on strength and conditioning so far.
He added: "Not more than two hours with the racket at the moment. But I've been doing strength and conditioning with absolutely no pain.”
Earlier this month it was Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley who confirmed Federer and Serena Williams will appear at the hard-court Grand Slam in 2021.
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“Roger this morning just confirmed publicly, that he’ll be here,” he told Channel Nine’s Wide World Of Sports.
“Serena Williams will be here, obviously trying to get Margaret Court’s record. We’re excited about the players that will be here and about what we’ll put on.”
Williams pulled out of the French Open with an Achilles injury but could renew her bid for a 24th singles major in Melbourne.
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The Australian Open is planning to fill 50 per cent of seats for the tournament, with Tiley and Tennis Australia creating more events while players are in the country and a ‘bio-secure bubble’ in Melbourne.
“We’re going to have six weeks of tennis, in fact more tennis and events than ever before,” said Tiley.
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“(Players) will have two weeks of quarantine that they will do in cities around Australia and for those two weeks we’re creating a bubble from the hotel to the courts in a training environment, not too dissimilar to what’s happened with the AFL and NRL.
“By then, we expect the border to be completely open and we can move from city to city and then come down to Melbourne for the Australian Open for the last two weeks of January.”