Roger Federer sent virtual heart attacks to fans when he shared via Facebook that he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee, injuring it the day after his semifinal at the Australian Open. However he reassured that the surgery was successful and he would return to the tour as soon as possible. The 34-year-old Swiss has played 1,307 matches over his career thus far. Comparatively, Connors, who played past 39, played 1,532 matches, Agassi retired at 36 having played 1,144 matches, and Lendl retired at 34 having played 1,310 matches. While not out of reason to think the natural wear and tear over a long time may have been the cause, a newspaper claimed otherwise. “Injured walking with his daughters,” The Morning declared on its front page, suggesting a random misstep may have tweaked something in the knee of the Swiss.
The knee surgery is a first for the 17-time grand slam champion, who has played professionally for nearly twenty years. A testament to his longevity, Federer has only been out of action one other time, when he tore ligaments in his ankle in the fall of 2005. The Swiss will miss two tournaments in February, Rotterdam and Dubai, as he cited he will be out for a month. He did not mention or comment on his participation for the BNP Paribas Open, which is held in early March.
I want to inform you that yesterday I underwent arthroscopic surgery on my knee. I injured my knee the day after the semi-finals in Australia. After getting tests done when I returned home, it was determined that I had torn my meniscus. I apologize to my friends in Rotterdam and Dubai, as I was very much looking forward to playing those events. While this is an unfortunate setback, I am encouraged and grateful that my doctor said the procedure was a success. I am looking forward to attacking the rehabilitation process this afternoon with my team and working hard to get back out on tour as soon as possible. Thanks for all your incredible support. I will check in with all of you soon.
The newspaper also conducted an interview with Finn Mahler, a sports doctor specializing in knee injuries.
“All the kilometers accumulated during the career of a high-level sportsman can cause wear that is the origin of such a tear,” Mahler said. “But a wrong movement of the knee can also be the cause.”
Either way, “the age of Federer should not prevent a rapid recovery,” he added.
Bruno Waespe, a sports surgeon interviewed by Tages-Anzeiger, told the newspaper that the injury is more common in those older than 30, and while there can be pre-existing damage, it is often caused by a single “rotational movement” that puts undue pressure on the area.
However, he indicated that Federer could be sidelined from competition for more than a month, depending on the extent of the damage.
“There are different types of meniscal tears,” he said. “But if it is that only the meniscus is affected and not the cartilage … Federer could return to competition level in six [to] eight weeks. But specifically, it is important there is no cartilage damage.”
The procedure involves a small incision and removal of part of the meniscus, which is then allowed to regrow.
“Although the meniscus takes two [to] three months to regrow,” he added, “and there is still residual pain, he can start casual play again in two to four weeks. But it will take a bit longer till he can go to the limits again.”