News : Roger Federer before the comeback: what can you expect from the 39-year-old?
Last Sunday, there are still three days until Roger Federer’s comeback at the Qatar Exxonmobil Open in Doha after an injury break of over 13 months. The Swiss is holding a press conference, journalists from all over the world have tuned in and want to take the opportunity to ask the tennis sport’s biggest star their questions.
Federer slides back and forth on his armchair in the press room of the “Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex”, drumming his fingertips on the table in front of him. He seems tense and even a little nervous.
You rarely see that in him. But is that surprising?
Federer did not play a single match during the corona pandemic. The last official game of the Swiss took place on January 30, 2020. At that time he lost in the semi-finals of the Australian Open against the eventual tournament winner Novak Djokovic in three straight sets.
Even then, Federer was ailing and suffering from groin problems. Two knee operations followed later in the year. The tennis year was over. There was even speculation about the end of the career of the now 39-year-old.
But Federer is not finished yet.
“One reason is certainly that I want to play against the best again, at the biggest tournaments, for titles,” he says in Doha a few days before his return when asked why.
Federer has an exact plan for his return. “Everything that comes from today to Wimbledon is to be seen as a build-up.” The world number six has deliberately chosen the smaller ATP tournament in Doha, a 250 category competition, for the restart. It should go forward in a dosed manner.
“Much will depend on the interplay between physique and psyche,” Heinz Günthardt told SPIEGEL. The Swiss, himself an ex-professional and long-time coach of Steffi Graf and Ana Ivanovic after his retirement, knows Federer well. “Roger first has to learn to anticipate again and also look over the net. A prerequisite for this, however, is a good state of fitness. If you are fast and fit, you are also strong in the head and difficult to beat. “
The serve is the key
But how strong and fit can someone be who has not played tournament tennis for over a year? “You shouldn’t expect anything from him. Federer is breaking new ground, ”says Günthardt, who has been the team boss of the Swiss Fed Cup team since 2012. “It’s like starting a new series on Netflix. Doha is episode 1, season 1. «
Günthardt believes that whether Federer really manages to celebrate success with the start of his comeback also depends on his serve. “He may be able to cheat his way through with his still excellent service. That gives security in the first few laps. The feel of the game, the flow, then returns more and more. “
Pierre Paganini is Federer’s fitness trainer. “If you watched, you’d say, he’s not hurt, everything is fine. We are now on the home straight, “this is how Paganini assessed the condition of the 20-time Grand Slam winner in relation to the Swiss” Tagesanzeiger “at the end of February. Federer sees himself “in a wonderful situation compared to five months ago: I can play two and a half hours five days in a row”.
The big goal is Wimbledon
“No matter how good you can be in training and you can also produce stress, but you can’t simulate matches,” says Günthardt. The practical test starts for Federer on Wednesday. It is not much more. After a bye in the first round, the Swiss face the winner of the game between Daniel Evans and Jeremy Chardy. Not the big names yet, but that’s part of the plan. Federer dampens expectations: “If I have less good results, it doesn’t matter. But at least then I can look ahead again, to Wimbledon, the US tour. “
Wimbledon – the name of his favorite tournament, which he has already won eight times, keeps coming up. It is the declared season goal to be there at 100 percent. Before that, there will only be selected appearances. Federer canceled the ATP Masters tournament in Miami at the end of March. It remains to be seen whether he will take part in the French Open. He has agreed to start at the lawn event in Halle.
And then it’s Wimbledon. Everything seems geared towards this – the season finale in his living room.