(Reuters) – Roger Federer has never considered retiring as he spent 13 months on the sidelines last year due to double knee surgery. The 39-year-old says he is now pain free and ready to play again with the feeling that his story is not over yet.
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Great Britain – July 14, 2019 Swiss Roger Federer in action against Serb Novak Djokovic REUTERS / Andrew Couldridge / File Photo
Federer, who has achieved a record of 20 individual Grand Slam titles with Rafa Nadal, has not played a competitive game since his loss to Novak Djokovic, the number one world champion in the 2020 Australian Open semi-finals.
The Swiss maestro will celebrate his highly anticipated return at the Qatar Open this week, where he will be seeded behind US Open champion Dominic Thiem.
“I am very happy to be playing another tournament. It was long ago. I never thought it would take so long, ”Federer told reporters on Sunday.
The Swiss will meet again in the first round in Doha, where he has won three times. His second leg will take place either on Tuesday or Wednesday against the British Dan Evans or the French Jeremy Chardy.
For Federer, tennis is like “riding a bike”, who doesn’t worry about his game or starts with “really low” expectations, but is more interested in how his knee reacts to the rigors of competitive tennis.
“It’s all about ‘Let’s see how the games go, let’s see how the training goes with all the top guys and professional players, not just sparring partners,'” he said, adding that he didn’t have his schedule over this week also set.
“I’ve played a lot of two-pointers in the last few months and so on. I know I’ll have to get back to training after here. From that point of view, it’s all about getting stronger, better, fitter, faster, and so on.
“Then I hope that I will be 100% at Wimbledon and then the season will start for me. Everything until then is just “Let’s see how it goes,” he added to the championships starting June 28, which were canceled last year due to COVID-19.
“I could surprise myself, but then I’ve already done it in practice for the past few weeks. I was surprised how well it actually went. But as we know, matches are a different animal. “
The Swiss has proven that he can quickly get back into his groove by winning the Australian Open in 2017, even though he missed the second half of the 2016 season because of a knee operation.
Federer said he was closely following the results of the ATP tour as he was getting fit and the complications after his first knee procedure motivated him to get well again.
“Retirement was never really planned. I think it’s more of a conversation, if the knee has been bothering me for months – then let’s take a look, ”he said. “I just feel like the story isn’t over yet.
“It’s not that there is a specific reason I wanted to keep playing tennis other than that I love to play tennis. I like to be out and about.
“I’ve still got some work to do, but probably one of the other reasons I’m coming back is because I want to get this high again by playing against the biggest players and in the biggest tournaments and hopefully winning them again,” he added.
“Hopefully I can play in front of an audience again.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Adaptation by Ken Ferris