Roger Federer faced an almost impossible task on Thursday night, forced to battle both the imperious Novak Djokovic and his own failing body in an Australian Open semi-final.
- Roger Federer has never retired from an ATP match due to injury in his entire career
- He fought through pain in a straight-sets loss to Novak Djokovic, a match he gave himself “a 3 per cent chance” of winning
- Despite being nearly 39, Federer says he plans to play at the Australian Open again next year
Federer sustained a groin injury earlier in the tournament but fronted up regardless, limping through a 7-6(7/1), 6-4, 6-3 loss.
But even in a straight-sets loss, Federer kept a unique career record alive — the Swiss legend has never retired from an ATP due to injury.
He trained behind closed doors before Thursday night’s match as speculation grew he might not take to the court.
But with everything against him — Federer believed he had a ” 3 per cent chance” of winning — the six-time Australian Open champion said he played with nothing to lose.
“We did talk about it with the team, how bad is it [the groin] allowed to feel,” Federer told reporters.
“I thought I was going to make it, to be honest.
“I went for a scan that same night [after beating Tennys Sandgren].
“After that we didn’t push it. Today I just really rested until as late as possible.
“I don’t think I would have gone on court if I felt like I had no chance to win. We saw I was still being able to make a match out of it.
“Once in the match, I felt like I was probably going to be able to finish, which was a good thing.”
Despite limping out of the Australian Open and with his 39th birthday fast approaching, Federer says he is not done with chasing grand slams.
He thinks he’s capable of adding two more major titles to his record-breaking trophy cabinet and is determined to returning to Melbourne Park next year.
“You never know what the future holds. But especially my age, you don’t know,” Federer said.
“I’m confident. I’m happy how I’m feeling, to be honest. No plans to retire.
“We’ll see how the year goes, how everything is with the family. We’ll go from there.
“I think by having the year that I had last year, also with what I have in my game, how I’m playing, I do feel that [I can win one or two more slams].”
Federer endured a difficult Australian Open, but took solace in making the final-four while far from his best and not playing any lead-up tournaments.
He looked gone in his third-round match against Australian John Millman, then survived seven match points to beat Sandgren.
“At the end of the day, I’m very happy. I’ve got to be happy with what I achieved,” Federer said.
“It was the maximum to go to get at this tournament, especially after the Millman and the Sandgren match.”
Federer is unsure how long the injury will prevent him from being at his best, but hopes it won’t be long.