Roger Federer will be testing the waters of the new normal ATP COVID bubble life as he returns for this week’s Qatar Open.
The 20-time grand Slam winner who is back after 14 months away due to a pair of knee operations, said on Sunday that he will need to adjust fast to the new world of pandemic restrictions on the Tour.
“The story’s not over yet,” the 39-year-old said. “There’s not just one particular reason that I wanted to keep playing.
“I enjoy the tennis and being on the road. But we are tested with this bubble life, quarentines, masks, travel is difficult and my rehab is not complete yet – it’s still a work in progress.
“But I want to get back to the big events and face the best players. Hopefully I can win a tournament and still be in the conversation.
“I also hope to play long enough to see crowds return to tennis.”
Federer said that playing without fans will probably not be much of a challenge in the early rounds. But empty stands from the quarter-final stage onwards will certainly be an adjustment for him.
“I’m looking forward to see how this all plays out. We are used to training without many people around or with light crowds.
“But when it comes to the crunch and you make it to the semis or finals and you’re playing a Top 10 guy, that’s when it gets strange.
“To play for so much in front of nobody feels bad for fans and players alike.”
But all that is relative: “I’m just happy that I’m playing again, I’m excited to experience how it will feel.
“I hope it (pandemic restrictions) will go quickly – nobody wants it to be this way.
Here we night have 2,000 (tested, vetted fans) on court for the final, that would feel almost normal
“Anything would be good, even if just 100 people are there, that can make an atmosphere.”
Main photo:- Eight time Dubai Open Champion Roger Federer – by ATPTour.com