Roger Federer insists he’s not set a trend for players to end seasons early in order to get some rest, despite Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray being among a vast group of ATP stars who cut 2017 short – although he thinks a period of absence for older stars is not a bad thing.
The Swiss called time on his 2016 early after injuring his knee and – after a six month rest – he’s returned to brilliant form, winning both Wimbledon and the Australian Open during a fabulous season.
Rafael Nadal made a similar move last year – albeit with a shorter break – and won the other two Grand Slams at Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows.
With Djokovic, Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori among the players to have already followed suit in 2017, speculation has been rife that Federer may have started a trend for stars to take extended breaks.
But Federer branded the timing of their absences as a ‘coincidence’, although he does think the move may become more popular among the older generation of tennis professionals.
‘This is probably a coincidence,’ the 36-year-old told Tagesanzeiger. ‘Most of these players are also no longer 22, but around the 30 and have played a lot.
‘A long break is sometimes necessary and could be a trend for older players. But I do not think that many of the younger ones will simply break off the season in the future because they think that is better.
‘If he can play, then he plays. I hope that in the future, more players will be able to take breaks even during the year, install training blocks and not all have burned out at the end of the year.’
Federer also looked ahead to his opening match in Basel against American hotshot Frances Tiafoe.
The 19-year-old took the Swiss to five sets at the US Open but Federer is hoping for a more comfortable outing on home turf as he chases an eighth title.
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‘This is a dangerous match, against a young fighter, who does not play in one particular style,’ he added. ‘And then on a fast court, I must be careful.
‘This is not New York, this is Basel. I hope he doesn’t play with as much freedom and energy as at the US Open.’