Roger Federer is unlikely to compete in next year’s Australian Open after a shoulder problem left him unable to serve properly, his team have announced.
In a statement released by the Roger Federer Foundation, the 36-year-old Swiss said he hoped to be back in time for the Australian Open in January, but he would not take any risks.
Federer, who won his record-extending 18th grand slam title at Wimbledon in July, last year, said it was a shame his season had finished so early but was confident he would bounce back in the 2019.
“This year I will focus a lot on getting back to full fitness because I believe that’s the best way to improve my game next year,” Federer said. “If I was able to return this year, I would certainly want to play the Australian Open, but I will definitely not do anything that puts my health at risk. It will have to be the right decision for me and for my body.”
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Federer said his long-time coach, Stefan Edberg, had sat in on his medical meetings this year and realised that something was not right.
“I experienced a nagging shoulder injury at the end of 2016 that prevented me from competing in the last three tournaments. One of the conclusions Stefan Edberg and I reached was that there is only one way to be 100% healthy. At the beginning of this year, I began an intense rehab and began strengthening my shoulder,” Federer said.
“Unfortunately, as the months passed, this inflammation worsened and I was playing with a bad shoulder. Early on in the season, we realised I was unable to serve properly. It was almost impossible to find the right volume on my serve or the right rotation of my upper body which affects the depth of my serve.
“Doctors suggested that I have surgery to correct this injury but I had hoped that I would be able to save this for the future. I never doubted that my body would recover after nearly a year of recovery, so I hoped that this would be the case. Unfortunately, the result was that I have to concede my season early.”
Federer was forced to pull out of the Montreal Open and Cincinnati Masters in July because of the injury and had his Halle title defence ended after his first-round exit. He does not play again until the US Open.