Federer: 'Everyone Is Playing Great, I Want To Achieve That Too'
The Swiss superstar, who has played just two matches this year at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in March, admitted on Monday, “I am just concerned about where my game is at. The guys are back on Tour in a good rhythm, the level everyone is producing is great. I want to achieve that again too.
“I need to play 10 matches to give you a better answer [about my level]. Things have been going well in practice. When you come back from an injury, you’re in a different place than everyone else. I am excited about the comeback, and won’t be focused on being at the same level as Rafa [Nadal] or Novak [Djokovic] right now.”
The 39-year-old brings a 32-match winning streak on home soil into the ATP 250 tournament, and is pursuing his first title since triumphing at the Swiss Indoors Basel in October 2019. Federer, who underwent two arthroscopic right knee surgeries in 2020, will play Australia’s Jordan Thompson or Pablo Andujar of Spain on Tuesday.
“I was happy that the knee didn’t feel any different from hard to clay, and I expect the same in the switch from clay to grass,” said Federer. “I’ve never had any major issues going between the surfaces, but with an injury and not having played as long as I have, there is always concerns. So far, the clay has been good for me and I hope it will be good for me for the grass.”
Federer lost his last tour-level match to eventual champion Nikoloz Basilashvili in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open quarter-finals on 11 March. Although he hasn’t watched much tennis since then, what coverage he has seen, he’s been impressed.
“I haven’t watched that much, but every time I have watched I’ve been impressed,” said Federer. “I’ve been excited to find out [how I'll fare]. But going to Doha I was particularly worried about the level and the first set I played with Dani [Daniel Evans], I won it and I surprised myself a little.
“Now we’re on clay, I’m more focused on the clay than my opponent. Once I get healthy and matches under my belt, that will increase my confidence. I think then I’ll be a part of the top tier. If you want to be in the top tier you need to play 50, 80 or 100 matches per season and that gets tougher as you get older.
“One thing is for sure, that the generation of [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, [Andrey] Rublev, [Daniil] Medvedev and [Alexander] Zverev have all gotten better with more experience. Dominic [Thiem] won a Slam in the meantime, and Rafa and Novak are still where they are. You would think that the game has improved again. It will be an extra challenge to find that level, but it was never going to be simple, whether I was out for three months or almost a year-and-a-half.”