Roger Federer has hinted that the ticking time bomb of age may have driven him back to the French Open after a four-year absence from the clay-court major.
The smooth Swiss played his first match at Roland Garros since a 2015 quarter-final, hammering Italian Lorenoz Sonego 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round.
After skipping the entire clay season for the past two years, the 37-year-old said he just felt the time was right for a return to the event he won in 2009.
He also played four finals, losing each time to 11-time Paris champion Rafael Nadal.
The 20-time grand Slam winner explained his thinking behind the return to the dirt.
“It starts with you are in the mood or not to do it, because there needs to go extra preparation into the clay court season for me – especially this year.
“I’m not getting any younger, and because I haven’t played many (two) years on the clay.”
“So, do I want to play on clay and do I want to go through that process and what does it create for the rest of the season?”
Federer said that in December, 2018, when he was starting the decision-making process, he saw more positives than negatives in making a comeback on the surface that he grew up on.
“The (original career) goal was always to play (Paris) every year. But back in 2016, 2017, 2018, I just felt for my health maybe it was better not to do it.
“All of a sudden these years go by, and, you know, you haven’t played.”
But all is right with the Swiss as he works his way into a draw where Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Austrian Dominic Thiem are looking like early title tips.
“Now, I’m very happy I took that decision (to play), because I enjoyed Madrid, I enjoyed Rome. I’m happy to be here,” Federer said.
“It was really nice to see a full stadium for a first round like this. It was a beauty. So I’m very, very happy.”
After going all-in on Roland Garros, Federer is giving the event his full attention over the coming fortnight.
“I feel like I can do those other (life) things later on. I don’t have to do them at 37.
“It’s not only about the Grand Slams, I love the ATP Tour, I love the other 1000s, 500s, 250s, you name it, Hopman Cup, Laver Cup, World Tour Finals.
“There are so many other cool events out there that I want to be part of, or exhibition matches or foundation matches.
“Tennis is much more than just the Slams. I love to play. The traveling doesn’t bother me too much.
“I feel like I have a lot of friends around the world, so it’s nice to see them, as well. I think that’s also helpful, going to places and getting to see my old friends I only see maybe once a year.
“I’m just very happy how things are going on the Tour, and my family loves it, too. They are okay with it. That helps a little bit. “