Wimbledon great Todd Woodbridge believes the cancellation of the 2020 championships and ongoing suspension of the ATP Tour will change the course of tennis history – and already Roger Federer is “devastated”.
Battling Father Time, an opponent no athlete has ever conquered, Federer now also faces the prospect of the coronavirus-enforced layoff ending his days as a genuine grand slam force.
The winner of an all-time-best 20 men’s singles majors, Federer will be a month shy of his 40th birthday if and when he returns for another crack at a ninth Wimbledon crown in 2021.
“The question that Roger will have to ask himself is how motivated is he to come back for another year?,” Woodbridge told AAP after The All England Club announced it would not hold the tournament for the first time since World War II.
“Or has this actually helped him?
“But the less match play that you get in this period at that age, it’s so much harder to come back and recover once you start again.
“So I really think that post-2020 will be a new era of people trying to create records because it’ll have really have broken up a great period in tennis.
“It has stopped the potential, I think, of Federer winning one or two more.
“It becomes very highly unlikely for him.”
Woodbridge, a nine-times Wimbledon doubles champion and singles semi-finalist, also suspects the coronavirus shutdown will be a game changer for tennis.
He can’t see the big three of Federer, 33-year-old Rafael Nadal (19 slams) and 32-year-old Novak Djokovic (16) continuing to rule as they have for the past decade-and-a-half.
“Because of the uncertainty, it makes it hard to see how the three can dominate when they come back because of the age of Roger and Rafa,” Woodbridge said.
“It also puts more pressure on Rafa and it changes all of those storylines that were on the table for 2020.
“For Novak, it may come at a good time in his career to actually rejuvenate him again, give him another big burst.
“So if anything, this period helps him the most.”
Federer tweeted that he was “devastated” after Wimbledon’s cancellation before reportedly saying he would return in 2021.
Still, Woodbridge is predicting a new era when play resumes.
“I think from here, this will be a line in the sand in terms of records,” he said.
“We had all the records from the amateur days, the open records and then this will be a new line.
“It will be post 2020.
“So it will have changed the history books in the long run when we do get back and playing again, for sure.”