‘Roger Federer can win in Melbourne’ – Former Grand Slam winner backs veteran for title number 21
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander has dismissed the theory that Roger Federer has won his last Grand Slam, as he backed the Swiss maestro to go close to glory at this year’s Australian Open.
Federer failed to add to his record-breaking haul of 20 Grand Slam titles in 2019 and at the age of 38, he would be setting new records if he returned to winning ways in the sport’s biggest tournaments this year.
Federer suffered a fourth-round defeat against Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year’s Australian Open and even though Wilander suggests Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are a few steps ahead of their long-time rival, he believes the conditions in Melbourne will give the oldest of the trio a chance a win again.
“I think Federer can win the title in Melbourne,” states Wilander. “Last year’s loss to Tsitsipas will obviously be a sour memory for him that I think plagued him for the rest of the year in many ways.
“He did not play a good match even though the conditions and opponents were sort of perfect. He showed the rest of the world that he is human in terms of not playing his best tennis, getting a little nervous, admitting to maybe not playing his best tennis on the biggest stage in the world.
“The biggest problem for him I think is that Novak and Rafa will come and they are so prepared this year, which is probably the biggest problem for Federer.
“At the same time, he most probably won his most surprising Grand Slam. Apart from the first one maybe, in ’17 and then maybe ’18 too so miracles still happen in Melbourne for Roger Federer and that would be a confidence boost I guess.”
Wilander believes Nadal will add to his Grand Slam haul and potentially draw level with Federer at the top of the all-time Grand Slam title charts in 2020, but he insists comparing the two great rivals is not a game he is willing to play.
“I can never compare them on court because how do you compare Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal? That’s impossible,” he adds. “Roger Federer is five years older, six years older, blah-blah. No, you can’t but on paper Nadal will become the best player of all time this season, I think he will.
“Nadal will win a Grand Slam this year, but I am not sure if can stay number one in the world, that’s the only thing. I feel like because the long season last year with the Davis Cup and now the ATP Cup, I feel that he is going to have one time this year when he needs a break and that’s never good for your ranking.
“But is he playing for the ranking? Not to begin with. I think he’s playing to win a Grand Slam and if it works out then yeah, he would want to be number one too but I think he is trying to win another Grand Slam or two and he will for sure. I think this is the year when Rafa Nadal will become the greatest player of all time on paper.”
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