(Reuters) - World number one Novak Djokovic said on Wednesday he hopes rival Roger Federer will return to competitive action soon and be able to compete with the best again after the Swiss great said he would miss the Australian Open in January.
Federer, 40, told Swiss media he is unlikely to return to competition until mid-2022 as he recovers from multiple knee surgeries and would be "extremely surprised" if he was able to play at Wimbledon, a Grand Slam he has won a record eight times.
The 20-times major champion said he would be able to resume running in January and return to training on the court in March or April.
"Roger is an icon of our sport and people around the world love him. They love watching him play, love seeing him around," Djokovic said after securing a semi-final spot at the ATP Finals with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Russian Andrey Rublev.
"He's very important for our sport on and off the court. For the sake of our sport, I sincerely hope that we can see him play at least another time. I'm sure he doesn't want to end his career this way.
"I think he's going to definitely give it a last push, a last try. For everything he has achieved and created for this sport, he deserves to play and deserves to have a proper farewell."
Djokovic is looking to match Federer's record of six titles at the season-ending ATP Finals. He is top of the Green Group standings with two wins from two matches and will face Britain's Cameron Norrie in his final group game on Friday.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)