Roger Federer will miss the Australian Open in January and is unlikely to return to competition until mid-2022 as he recovers from multiple knee surgeries, the former world No. 1 told Swiss media.

Federer, 40, also said he would be “extremely surprised” if he was able to play at Wimbledon, a Grand Slam he has won a record eight times, with his last title coming in 2017.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said he would be able to resume running in January and return to on-court training in March or April.

“I need to be very patient and give my knee the time to heal,” Federer said. “The next few months will be crucial.”

Federer’s agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Federer is currently tied with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic for the most all-time Grand Slam titles.

Earlier this week, Federer’s coach Ivan Ljubicic said the Swiss star was unlikely to play at Melbourne Park in January, as he was not going to be at 100%.

Federer had two knee operations in 2020 that kept him off the tour for more than a year and returned to action in March. He only played 13 matches this year.

Federer withdrew from the French Open in June after winning his third-round match to save himself for Wimbledon, but lost in the quarterfinals at the All England Club.

Another injury forced Federer to skip the U.S. Open as he went under the knife again, saying doctors also fixed cartilage in his knee.

“This summer it was decided to suture the lesion to my meniscus, which involves some downtime,” he said. “The doctors took the opportunity to also treat my cartilage. The combination of these two procedures requires patience and caution.”

Federer has not won a Grand Slam since clinching the Australian Open title in 2018, but the Swiss veteran said he is still holding out for a ‘miracle.’

“My life is not going to collapse if I don’t play a Grand Slam final again,” he said. “But it would be the ultimate dream to go back. And in fact, I still believe in it. I believe in these kinds of miracles.”

Djokovic, the current world No. 1, said he hopes Federer is able to return to competitive action soon.

“Roger is an icon of our sport and people around the world love him, “Djokovic said after securing a semifinal spot at the ATP Finals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Russian Andrey Rublev. “They love watching him play, love seeing him around.

“He’s very important for our sport on and off the court. For the sake of our sport, I sincerely hope that we can see him play at least another time. I’m sure he doesn’t want to end his career this way.

“I think he’s going to definitely give it a last push, a last try. For everything he has achieved and created for this sport, he deserves to play and deserves to have a proper farewell.”

Federer said the question was more one of whether he was prepared to put himself through the pain day after day.

“Today, my heart answers yes,” he said. “So I take things step by step” “And even if I know full well that the end is near, I want to try to play in some big matches again.”

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