Roger Federer never contemplated retirement as he spent 13 months on the sidelines due to double knee surgery last year and the 39-year-old says he is now pain-free and ready to play again with a feeling that his story is not over yet.
“Retirement was never really on the cards. I think it’s more of a conversation if the knee keeps bothering me for months and months – then let’s look at it,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“I just feel like the story is not over. It’s not like there’s one particular reason that I wanted to keep playing tennis other than I enjoyed playing tennis, I enjoy being on the road.
“I’m still a work in progress but probably one of the other reasons for coming back is I want to get that high again of playing against the biggest players and in the biggest tournaments and hopefully winning them again. Hopefully I can play in front of crowds again,” he added.
The Swiss maestro will make his highly-anticipated return at this week’s Qatar Open, where he is seeded behind U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem.
He has a bye in the first round in Doha, and his return match will either be on Tuesday or Wednesday against Briton Dan Evans or Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
“I’m very happy to be back playing a tournament again. It’s been a long time. I never thought it would take this long,” he said.
Tennis is like “riding a bike” for Federer, who is not worried about his game or starting with “really low” expectations, but is more interested to see how his knee reacts to the rigours of competitive tennis.
“It’s just about ‘Let’s see how matches go, let’s see how training goes with all the top guys and professional players, not just sparring partners’,” he said, adding that he has not decided his schedule beyond this week.
“Hope is to be 100 percent fit by Wimbledon”
The 39-year-old revealed his aim is to attain full fitness by the time Wimbledon comes around later in the year.
“I hope then by Wimbledon I’m going to be 100% and that’s when the season starts for me. Everything until then it’s just ‘Let’s see how it goes’, he added of the championships starting on June 28, which were cancelled last year due to COVID-19.