I am not going to suggest that this categorically means Federer is finished. That being said, he has been able to avoid serious injury his entire career. At some point, regrettably, no athlete, no matter how great, can withstand age.
Due to his having had knee surgery, Federer has had to pull out of two events. The first is Rotterdam, an event that he has played in before. The second is in Dubai, where Federer won the 2015 title and has had a lot of success in the past.
One of the big questions in this whole story: how much action will Federer miss? To be clear, he stated that he would not play the warm-up tournaments on clay in Madrid or Rome prior to the season even starting.
If Federer can only make it back for the French Open, that’s probably fine by him. After all, his biggest goals come later in the calendar year. He will probably play at Wimbledon, which is his favorite major and, realistically, the one where he has the best chance to add to his already impressive haul of 17 major titles.
The Olympics in Rio de Janeiro may end up being Federer’s biggest goal of the season. That sounds odd, but think about it: he hasn’t yet won an Olympic gold medal in singles. He did win the 2008 doubles title in Beijing with Stan Wawrinka. It’s the one “blemish” still missing from his record. (It’s also missing from Djokovic’s record, too. But don’t tell him that or there will be no hope for anybody else.)
Federer is going to be 35 on August 8th. This will be his last Olympics and he probably has only at most a handful of seasons left.
So what does the injury mean? In terms of rankings points, less than you might think. Not nothing, but it doesn’t appear likely Federer would fall to below fourth. On ESPN, Peter Bodo has a great article discussing Federer’s injury. You can link to it here. So what is the big problem with Federer getting injured?
If this injury flares up again, that could be it for his career. Not necessarily, but he needs to stay healthy. The talk about Federer never being injured or always playing through it doesn’t apply now. I think we all knew that that day would come. It’s just unfortunate that it did.