Roger Federer in conversation: "There have never been so many unanswered questions as now"
Roger Federer said in a press conference before the tournament in Doha about his comeback, his current fitness level and his wish to end his career.
last edit: Mar 08, 2021, 09:54 am
Mr. Federer, what are your expectations when you start your first tournament in Doha - after a long injury break and 13 months without a competition?
Roger Federer: Inevitably, I don't have great expectations. I'm happy to be back, to be able to play another tournament. First of all, it's a massive relief to have come to this point.
The tennis world has also changed radically in times of the pandemic. How do you see the new Corona traveling circus?
Federer: I'm very curious how it will all be for me. The bubble situation, life between the hotel and the tournament facility, the isolation. Of course, I saw what it was like for the players at the other top events, most recently in Australia. But you also have to feel it yourself, experience it, feel it. I am glad that there are 2,000 spectators here in Doha on Center Court. Everything but zero is okay. Even 100 fans can make a lot of noise.
How do you stand physically after the two operations and the rehabilitation phase?
Federer: Certainly not as good as when I restarted in 2017, when I made my comeback after an Achilles tendon injury. This one was harder, also more grueling at times. To be honest: The next few days and weeks, there is a big question mark about it. Uncertainty too. On the other hand, there is also a lot of anticipation. I've missed tennis a lot, my colleagues. This is also a family that you can meet again now.
In all the months that you have now spent with injury problems and rebuilding, there have also been moments of doubt. Moments when they thought: does it have to go on?
Federer: You always have your lows at such a time. After it became clear that a second operation was needed, I was pretty down. But my career, going on, I didn't really question that.
How closely did you follow what was going on in the tour business?
Federer: I'm a big tennis fan and I've watched tennis a lot. Not everything, but a lot. I was always up to date. I was very happy that Dominic Thiem won his first big title in New York. And then of course it was also impressive how Rafael Nadal defended their titles in Paris and Novak Djokovic in Melbourne.
Nadal and Djokovic are fighting for the eternal Grand Slam title record more than ever.
Federer: I don't think about these records every second. Every best performance is there to be broken. My big goal has always been to beat Pete Sampras' record of 14 titles. Now I have 20 - and now others want to pass me by. That's the way the world is. I think we can all sleep well up there with what we've achieved.
How far have you planned this challenging year?
Federer: It all depends on how my knee is doing. Hence the answer. The next five months are still a kind of test phase, an approach to normality. I want to be really fit when it comes to the tournaments in Halle and Wimbledon. After Doha I will decide whether I will also play Dubai. Then there is a four to six week training block. The clay court season? There is still no definition.
When would this comeback be a success for you?
Federer: Clearly in the beginning, when I can play again without pain and worry. That was what it was all about for me anyway, regardless of whether I returned to the tour - I wanted to get my body back in shape, to be able to play basketball, soccer, and ski. Operations and thorough rehabilitation were simply necessary for this.
Have you felt yourself, even with past comebacks, when you are back at full speed?
Federer: It's relatively easy. You will quickly notice when you have this 100 percent confidence in your body again. When you are not thinking about a movement or an action. It's the other way around: Your opponent will notice immediately if you fail to bring this 100 percent onto the pitch. He checks you out, immediately uses every weakness, every mental insecurity.
If you go into a tournament, it automatically speaks of a semi-final, final or victory. Can you ignore this expectation, this aspiration?
Federer: I've always been the greatest realist about my status. I can't help how the fans and the media judge me. But it is now clear to me what challenge I will face. I don't know how my body or my knees react to the strain - many games in a row, long flights across time zones, tough matches against the absolute best in the world. In fact, there have never been so many unanswered questions as there are now.
In Corona times, it is also extremely difficult to reconcile professional and family interests.
Federer: Of course. That's why I would have shied away from the Australian Open, even if it had already been physically possible. Arrival, two weeks of quarantine without a family, then the tournament. All in all, five complicated, mentally exhausting weeks for a single tournament. I still have to find out how I can solve all of this reasonably optimally in the future.
You've been out of the tennis business for longer than ever before. How did your family react when it started again?
Federer: Of course my children were sad when I left. They said: Can't you stay? It wasn't easy emotionally, but it's good to know that they miss you. We are now in virtual contact.
If you now look at your new start again: What is the decisive, most important impulse to take all this effort on yourself again?
Federer: I have the feeling that this whole story in tennis is not over for me yet. The fun of competing with the best in the world on one of the top courts is still a great attraction. I would like my career to end in a moment when the stadiums are full of fans again. I am also - despite all the uncertainties - optimistic about this comeback. I was surprised by how good I was in training recently. And it didn't take me long before to play good and successful tennis again.
Recording, editing: Jörg Allmeroth