Roger Federer faces a reality check when he eventually returns to tennis, says Mats Wilander.
The 40-year-old last appeared on the circuit at Wimbledon where he lost to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals, before withdrawing from the US Open to undergo knee surgery in August.
Last week the 20-time Grand Slam winner revealed that he will not play at this year's Australian Open in January and while he admitted that he would be 'extremely surprised' to play at Wimbledon, he predicted he would return in the summer of 2022.
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But seven-time Grand Slam winner and former world number one Mats Wilander believes that Federer - who will turn 41 in August - will struggle to compete with the current top ten physically.
"I think it's possible for him to come back," Wilander told Eurosport. "I think if he keeps saying it himself, he obviously has his mind set on coming back."
He doesn't get tired. He knows how to listen to his body, but it's getting more and more difficult."
"I think the bigger problem to me is that these guys are getting really, really good. (Alexander) Zverev and (Daniil) Medvedev are the guys pushing behind, they are playing huge games of tennis. And of course, Federer has his serve but how big a weapon is a Roger Federer serve compared to let's say a Zverev or Medvedev serve. I think that's going to be the reality check
Federer last won a Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2018, but has regulated the number of matches he has played on tour to keep himself fit and ready for Grand Slam tennis.
And while Wilander believes Federer will have to temper his expectations on his return, he believes a return to tennis is still worthwhile a curious endeavour for a 40-year-old.
"I don't think that Roger Federer will play too many matches on Tour," added Wilander. "He realizes that he does still have a chance to win - maybe not a grand slam, maybe not a final - but three or four matches. I think it's worth it for him to come back in his own mind."
I'm sure Roger is curious to find out if it can be done at 41"
"I don't think he will know until he steps on court for at least a two or three set match against the likes of Zverev and Medvedev."
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