‘There’s a lot to improve on but I’m incredibly happy how I played,’ says Roger Federer after ‘explosive’ return
Roger Federer revealed his delight at an “explosive” return to tennis after 14 months injured in a thrilling three-set Qatar Open victory over Great Britain’s Dan Evans.
Federer saw off Evans 7-6 (10-8), 3-6, 7-5 in a gruelling two hours and 24 minutes in Doha, to leave the 39-year-old pleased with the power in his knee after two surgeries and his extended injury absence.
Federer admitted his first competitive match in 405 days posed a vast number of questions – but the 20-time grand slam champion believed he was able to provide comprehensive answers.
“I was very happy with how I was able to handle the tough moments, I didn’t feel like my game started to wobble, the more important the points got,” said Federer.
“I was able to play how I wanted to play, and that’s a great sign and a feeling to have.
“Not serving any double faults, that’s a sign that the knee is doing really well on the serve, which is crucial.
“As the match went on longer I was able to really come to the net more, and take more chances there. That stresses the body more.
“So I was really happy that I was really explosive actually, even though of course I was going in swings of being tired again feeling better again.
“It’s been a long time, and if you cannot play for two and a half hours, you cannot come back, it’s that simple.
“A lot of questions are being asked and you have to test yourself in practice. The other thing obviously, nobody’s going to do the running for you.
“You have to do it for yourself. You cannot be substituted or anything like that. If I don’t run I’m not going to make any more winners.
“So I’m very happy, there’s a lot to improve on but I’m incredibly happy how I played.
“It’s been 400 or so days I haven’t been on a tennis court. I have to get used to it again, so that’s why it’s probably nice to play another match tomorrow.”
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 10, 2021
Federer will jump straight into a quarter-final with Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili on Thursday – but insisted he will stick to his tried and tested old-school recovery methods.
“I’ve only ever taken one ice bath, and I didn’t like it so I’m not going to do that again,” said Federer.
“I don’t take painkillers for fun; only when I really have to. I haven’t taken painkillers in nine months, so since the surgery I guess.
“From that standpoint I’m really healthy, so I just have to grab some food, take a shower, stretch, take a massage, sleep in and then warm up properly tomorrow. Very simple.”
Federer and Evans had spent the last fortnight in a training camp, with the Swiss offering high praise for his Birmingham counterpart.
“I think usually I pick hitting partners depending on their character too I think more than their game,” said Federer.
“If you make it into the top 250, I’m sorry, you’re a good enough player, you can do everything.
“Dan’s an easy going guy, if you sit on the side in the chair we always chat. So you’d be talking and then suddenly realise you’ve got to get back to it.
“It’s nice when you go through training blocks like this that it’s with someone who’s interesting to talk to, rather than someone who doesn’t say a word for two weeks.
“It’s always fun with him, plus he’s getting better and better, he mixes it up, it’s not every day the same match.
“So that’s why I very much enjoyed that training time. And I told him at the net I appreciated everything we did together in the last few weeks.”
ATP Rankings: Novak Djokovic on course to break Steffi Graf’s record as he makes biggest-ever jump to No 1
Novak Djokovic back at No 1.
Stefanos Tsitsipas sings different tune after Novak Djokovic GOAT remark – ‘I don’t want to give the whole title to him’
Stefanos Tsitsipas has a different take on GOAT debate.
How difficult is ‘crazy’ Novak Djokovic to deal with? His coach Goran Ivanisevic shares his thoughts
“I understand how he feels. I understand the emotions,” says Goran Ivanisevic about Novak Djokovic’s outbursts.
How Novak Djokovic will end the GOAT debate once and for all
With Djokovic now level with Nadal in 22 major wins, tennis legend John McEnroe has predicted how many more he will win.
Novak Djokovic proud of ‘special journey’ to 22nd Grand Slam title
Novak Djokovic’s victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas gave him his 10th title in Melbourne, a year after being deported.
Elena Rybakina hits back over ‘fake news’ about her ‘passionate coach’ Stefano Vukov
“I want to clarify any misinterpretations,” says Elena Rybakina.
Novak Djokovic has ‘at least three more Grand Slams’ in him – John McEnroe
How many more Grand Slam titles can Novak Djokovic win? John McEnroe expects plenty more from world No 1.
Novak Djokovic breaks down after ‘biggest victory of his life’ at Australian Open
Novak Djokovic joined Rafael Nadal at the top of the men’s list for most Grand Slams.
Stefanos Tsitsipas hails Novak Djokovic as the ‘greatest that has ever held a tennis racket’
Stefanos Tsitsipas hailed Novak Djokovic as the greatest ever following Australian Open final.
WATCH: Raw emotion from ‘superhuman’ Novak Djokovic after he returns to his perch in Australia
Novak Djokovic let it all out after winning the 2023 Australian Open.