© NOVENTI OPEN/Mathias Schulz

Roger Federer falls against Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets at the NOVENTI OPEN on Wednesday in Halle.

Federer On His Comeback: 'It’s A Huge Challenge For Me'

The 39-year-old reflects after his loss against Auger-Aliassime

Roger Federer failed to reach the quarter-finals at the NOVENTI OPEN for the first time in 18 appearances with his three-set loss against Felix Auger-Aliassime on Wednesday. Afterwards, the Swiss legend, who is now 5-3 on the season, admitted that coming back from the two right knee surgeries he had last year has not been easy.

“It’s a huge challenge for me. Everybody who has been in multiple surgeries or a tough surgery knows what I’m talking about,” Federer said. “Things don’t come simple, they don’t come easy. You second-guess yourself rather quickly unfortunately, and that’s sometimes the biggest worry: the worry of pain or the worry of how you’re going to feel the next day or when you wake up, the first steps, how did they feel? All this stuff, it takes a little bit of a toll on you sometimes.”

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Federer battled through a tight first set against the 20-year-old, and looked good in taking the lead. But the 10-time Halle champion made a lot of errors and showed uncharacteristic frustration in the third set. The former World No. 1 faced 15 break points in the match.

“Of course I know Felix is a great player and he was better today. I would have maybe lost anyhow. But it’s a tough court to play on, so it makes me really happy looking back at how grateful I can be about how well it’s gone here in Halle and how difficult it is to win here,” Federer said. “This type of third set I cannot accept. The first two are totally okay, no problem there. But I guess it happens and it’s all good from my side.”

The 103-time tour-level titlist said he has “felt overall very good” over the past year as he has rehabbed and attempted to work his way towards his best tennis. This was his fourth tournament since the 2020 Australian Open.

“I didn’t mind the whole rehab process and all that stuff. It has been one that I have also enjoyed, something different. I was able to stay home with the family and that was nice from that standpoint,” Federer said. “But then of course once you get back on the court you want it so badly like you used to, and then you get disappointed with a performance or shots or a feeling you have or negativity that creeps in. You just are [like], ‘That’s too bad. Why is that happening?’ And you’re just trying to figure that out.

“But I think that’s why I’ve always explained throughout this process, I need to take every match as information, I need to figure it out. I need to understand why it’s going on.”

Federer was especially pleased with how he played in the first set, but he felt his level quickly slip away in the decider.

“I just think the consistency point for point has not been easy for me in the comeback, and I knew that’s what it is going to take,” Federer said. “The good thing coming out of a match like this against a great player is I know what I need to think about moving forward. Clearly I need to do a bit better, but overall I thought also Felix played a great match. He stayed mentally very solid. He showed that he wanted to win and he was better at the end."

The World No. 8 was most disappointed with his attitude, which he felt contributed to the third set going the way it did. But after absorbing what happened in the match, the 39-year-old is confident that he can now move forward, work on his game and turn the page to Wimbledon.

“I realised it was not going to be my day. There was nothing I can do. I started to get really negative and this is not normally how I am by any means,” Federer said. “I think this is not something I’m happy about and proud about, but at the same time, if I look at my 1,500 matches I’ve played, these things happen. The good thing is that I know it will not happen the next time around and the next time and the next time."

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