In a surprisingly frank interview Andre Sa, the tournament’s Director of Player Relations, stated that Federer’s wife Mirka did not approve the idea of him being away from his family for more than a month.
The scenario hints that that the great Swiss’s ambition may be waning, which at 39 and having won so much is fairly understandable.
Roger Federer’s absence from next month’s Australian Open is less down to injury and more due to the strict quarantine measures in place for him and his family
Federer’s wife Mirka (above) did not approve the idea of him being away from her and their four children for more than a month
When the decision to skip Melbourne was officially announced just after Christmas the official emphasis was very much on him not quite being ready to compete. He has not played since January 30 due to knee problems that have required two minor surgeries.
However Sa, a former Wimbledon quarter finalist, told a different story when interviewed by Ace BandSports, a platform in his native Brazil.
‘The main reason was the quarantine,’ said Sa. ‘I talked to him a month ago and he had two options. He could come with the whole family and quarantine. The problem is that Mirka (Federer’s wife) and her children couldn’t leave the room.
Players have had to take a flight to Melbourne and then isolate in their rooms for two weeks
‘They would have to stay 14 days in the room. The exception is only for players. He could go out, train and come back, but the family couldn’t. Mirka did not approve the idea.
‘The other option would be for him to come alone. Only there would be at least five weeks away from family and children. And then he said, ‘Dude, 39, four kids, 20 Grand Slams. I am no longer in a time to be away from my family for five weeks’.
Federer, whose wife has been a quietly formidable presence throughout his career, is very much the exception to the rule with the vast majority of players signed up to Australia.
Ex-Wimbledon quarter finalist Andre Sa (right) made the claims during an interview in Brazil
This will involve taking a charter flight to Melbourne and then being confined to their rooms for two weeks, while being allowed out to practice for a maximum five hours per day.
The 39 year-old Swiss is expected to make his comeback immediately after the season’s opening Grand Slam, probably in at the Dubai Open.
The hope of tennis authorities is that, by the European Spring, tournaments will be able to operate relatively normally in terms of quarantine, although reduced crowds look sure to be a feature.
Federer’s wife has been a quietly formidable presence throughout his long career