He may have been offstage for more than a year following two right knee surgeries. but Roger Federer is in no danger of failing to rise to the occasion as he returns as second seed this week in Qatar.
“Tennis is like riding a bike, I know how to do that,” the 39-year-old said Sunday as he prepared to play his first event since the 2020 Australian Open,
“(Playing) doesn’t worry me, I can play very little but play very well. My longevity has been good.”
The 20-time Grand Sam champion and his team are keeping a close eye on the state of his knee, which has been the object of intense and intelligent rehab since his second operation in late summer.
“After the second time we started from scratch,” he said. “From the bottom up I had to work my way back (to play) a tournament like this.”
The Swiss won the local title in 2005, 2006 and 2011 and competed here for the last time in 2012.
He admits he and his team are exerting zero pressure, with even his “home” event in Dubai to follow Doha still not an absolute sure thing on his calendar.
Late March will kick off a month of training and a decision about how to approach the clay season.
All emphasis will be on the summer grass – usually Halle to start – and the holy grail of Wimbledon, which he has won eight times.
But expectations are being held in check: “If I complete a match here, or several matches, I’ll be happy leaving the court knowing that I played a match
“Honestly, expectations are in a completely different place for me.”
He added that the coming months will tell the story of his comeback effort.
“The next three to five months will be interesting. Playing more, travelling more, finding out how the knee reacts to changing time zones, flying transatlantic, playing five-set matches, playing four days in a row.
“These are answers I need.
“If I was not sure and confident I would not put myself in this position. There is some uncertainty, but that is normal.”