Roger Federer: Swiss star will play on until at least 2019

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - FEBRUARY 20: Roger Federer of Switzerland waves to the crowd in front of the old town square during the countdown to the inaugural Laver Cup on February 20, 2017 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for The Laver Cup)

LONDON– Fans of Roger Federer can breathe a sigh of relief: he will play on until at least the end of 2019.

The Swiss superstar, who last month came back from a knee surgery to win a men’s record-extending 18th grand slam title at the Australian Open, has committed to a three-year deal with his hometown event, the Swiss Indoors in Basel.

“I can barely wait to play in front of my home crowd this autumn,” Federer said in a statement in German on the website of the Swiss Tennis Federation on Tuesday. “Playing in Basel is always one of the highlights of the year.”

The 2017 Basel tournament is scheduled to take place between October 21 and 29 and by the time the deal with Federer ends the Swiss will be 38 years old.

Doubts?

A seven-time champion in Basel, Federer had thrown some doubt on how long he would play on after he beat his old nemesis Rafael Nadal of Spain in the finals of the Australian Open. It was his first major title since Wimbledon in 2012.

At 35 years and 174 days, Federer’s victory at Melbourne Park made him the oldest man to win a grand slam singles title since Ken Rosewall won the Australian Open in 1972 at the age of 37.

“I hope to see you next year,” he had told the crowd at Rod Laver Arena at the trophy ceremony. “If not, this was a wonderful run here and I can’t be more happy to have won here tonight.”

Although he explained a day later he had no plans to retire just yet, the 11-month long men’s tennis tour is one of the toughest and longest in professional sports and it remains to be seen how Federer’s body will react as the season progresses.

Injuries

Prior to 2016, Federer had never really been troubled by serious injury, but that all changed when he underwent the first surgery of his career last year after injuring his knee while bathing his children.

He then pulled out of the French Open in May with a back injury — the first time he’d missed any of the four majors since 1999.

And after he slipped on the grass of Wimbledon during his semifinal loss to Milos Raonic of Canada, Federer decided to end his season prematurely in July to allow his knee recover.