Why there is no doom and gloom for Roger Federer

If you are a genuine fan of Roger Federer, you should vigorously applaud his decision to bail on the rest of the 2016 tennis season.

No, you won't see Federer in a few weeks' time, feet falling along the baseline as softly as a cat's, stalking the elusive singles gold medal in a farewell Olympic performance in Rio. Or later in August, flicking sweet forehands at the National Tennis Center in Flushing in the quest for his sixth US Open title.

In his present, somewhat-less-than-his-best condition, you wouldn't have seen ultimate success anyway.

But -- assuming a few months of rest and rehabilitation can bring his dodgy left knee back to a sound level -- the inconvenience of missing out on those late-summer visuals has a massive upside for the athlete who turns 35 in 13 days:

It likely means a few more years of the less-than-vintage-but-still-stylish Federer we have come to know in recent years -- which isn't half-bad. In fact, it's still better than good.

Indeed, the mood at the Team8 offices in Pepper Pike, Ohio on Tuesday was upbeat.

"There is no gloom and doom in our camp," insisted Tony Godsick, Federer's longtime agent. "The decision was unfortunate, on the face, a bummer, but it was encouraging, too. It shows he still wants to get out there and give it a few more years."

Since winning Wimbledon in 2012, the final major in his portfolio that includes a record 17-Grand Slam singles titles, Federer has been essentially rolling through an extended, elevated victory lap. He made the final at Wimbledon in 2014 and 2015 and a year ago at the US Open.

Perhaps more telling, after reaching five ATP World Tour 1000 finals in 2014, winning two of them (Cincinnati and Shanghai), he made three master finals a year ago, winning only in Cincinnati.

This year? Only 28 matches and zero major or masters finals.

The season began typically enough. Federer got to the final in Brisbane and reached the semifinals at the Australian Open for the 12th time in 13 season. But in early February, he underwent surgery meniscus surgery, the first of his career. When he came back a few months later, he wasn't quite himself.

Although a cranky back was blamed for his pullout in Madrid, the knee was always the major issue. He lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters of Monte Carlo and to 22-year-old Dominic Thiem at the Italian Open before opting to skip the French Open, his first major miss since the 1999 US Open, ending a record of 65 consecutive Grand Slam appearances.

The return to his favorite surface was not encouraging; Federer lost again to Thiem on the grass in the Stuttgart semifinals and, a week later, to teenager Alexander Zverev in the semis of Halle, an event the Swiss had won eight times. In retrospect, it approaches amazing that earlier this month Federer reached the semifinals at Wimbledon before losing to Milos Raonic -- in five sets.

"Actually," Godsick said, "he did quite well being where he would not like to be.

"In the end, I think he realized the competition, as tough as it is, you don't help yourself by playing less than your best. Now he can manage his schedule and take the steps necessary to get bigger, faster and stronger."

Godsick would not offer details, but said that by creating a window of four months without competitive tennis -- instead of the usual one -- Federer was giving himself more than enough cushion to come back completely healthy to start 2017.

"So if the doctor says he needs a certain number of weeks, now he can afford to give it even more time," Godsick said. "Everyone on this team is an optimist, and he's the chief optimist."

More than anything, Federer seems to love being Federer. Deep in his mind, he has to know another Grand Slam title is increasingly unlikely. Still, he enjoys being in the hunt, maybe more importantly, in the conversation. Clearly, it's fun, and there are still millions of more dollars to make. With four children, that's not a minor consideration.

"The love I have for tennis, the competition, tournaments and of course you, the fans remains intact," Federer wrote in a Facebook post. "I am as motivated as ever and plan to put all my energy towards coming back strong, healthy and in shape to play attacking tennis in 2017."

Not just tennis, attacking tennis. Federer is currently ranked No. 3 in the world behind Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Will the tennis world change appreciably when younger players like Raonic, Thiem, Zverev and Nick Kyrgios move past him? In a word, no.

"If the goal is to go and play as long as you can," Godsick said, "it's the right decision."

Let the Federer flowing, fluid victory lap continue.