Melbourne - Roger Federer dropped hints that his great
career may be drawing to a close after his age-defying win over his Grand Slam
nemesis Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.
The 35-year-old Swiss admitted his return to Melbourne
wasn't guaranteed after he ended a five-year wait for his 18th major title by
beating Nadal in a thrilling five-setter.
He told the Rod Laver Arena crowd: "I hope to see you
next year, but if not, then it was a wonderful year here and I couldn't be
Federer has been rebutting suggestions of retirement for
several years, but he said he was now aware injuries could force him off the
The Australian Open marked his comeback from a six-month
injury break, the longest of his career, after he underwent surgery for the
first time last February.
"This is all about, you know, knowing that I have only
so much tennis left in me," he told reporters, when asked about the
comment in his acceptance speech.
"If I do get injured, you know, maybe if I miss next
year, who knows what happens... You never know when your next Grand Slam is
going to be, if ever.
"You never know if you're going to have an opportunity
at this stage."
Federer added: "Look, I've had a tough year last year.
Three five-setters are not going to help. I just meant it the way I meant it.
"There wasn't something planned behind it, that this is
my last Australian Open. I hope can I come back, of course. That's my hope
Federer, now four titles clear of Nadal and Pete Sampras on
the all-time major-winners' list, was troubled by injury during the tournament
and he said he had been carrying an upper leg problem since the second round.
Unusually for the Swiss, he took a medical timeout in the
final as well as during his five-set semi with Stan Wawrinka. He also went five
sets with Kei Nishikori in round four.
He said Sunday's 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win ranked
alongside his 2009 French Open victory, which completed a career Grand Slam and
ended a run of three defeats in the final.
"I think this one will take more time to sink in. When
I go back to Switzerland, I'll think, 'Wow'. The magnitude of this match is
going to feel different," he said.
"I can't compare this one to any other one except for
maybe the French Open in '09. I waited for the French Open, I tried, I fought.
I tried again and failed. Eventually I made it. This feels similar."
Fittingly it was Nadal who pushed Federer to one of the biggest
achievements of his career, after his Grand Slam chances had been largely
It was a redemptive win as Federer has struggled against
Nadal, losing four straight major finals to the fearsome left-hander since his
Wimbledon victory in 2007.
"Rafa definitely has been very particular in my career.
I think he made me a better player," Federer said.
"Him and a couple more players have done the most to do
that to me because the way his game stacks up with me, it's a tricky one. I've
said that openly.
"It remains for me the ultimate challenge to play
against him. So it's definitely very special.
"I said that also before the finals: if I were to win
against Rafa, it would be super-special and very sweet because I haven't beaten
him in a Grand Slam final for a long, long time now."