'Matching Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic is not on my mind,' says Roger Federer



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'Matching Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic is not on my mind,' says Roger Federer

Turning 38 in August, Roger Federer was still among the players to beat in 2019. The Swiss wrapped up the season in the top-3 behind Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, winning the Masters 1000 title and wasting two match points in that epic Wimbledon final against Novak.

Roger reached the Australian Open semi-final in January last year before experiencing a knee injury that required surgery in February. Still feeling the pain, Roger underwent another procedure in May and stayed away from the practice court until the season's closing stages, missing the rest of 2020 and focusing on 2021.

Working hard in Dubai and at home in Switzerland, Roger made a long-awaited return in March in Doha, beating Daniel Evans in three tight sets before squandering a match point versus Nikoloz Basilashvili. Taking more time off the court, Federer entered his second tournament in Geneva in May, not expecting much and just wanting to play a couple of matches of clay ahead of his beloved grass swing.

In his press conference before Geneva, Roger admitted he was still far from matching Novak Djokovic's and Rafael Nadal's pace, staying focus on improvements and hoping to play at his best in Halle and Wimbledon. As we all know, Federer reached the Wimbledon quarter-final before withdrawing from the rest of the season and announcing the third knee surgery.

Roger Federer spoke about his plans in Geneva in May.

"I need to play ten matches to give you a better answer about my level. Things have been going well in practice. I am excited about the comeback and will not focus on being at the same level as Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic.

I was happy that the knee did not feel any different from hard to clay, and I expect the same in the switch from clay to grass. I've never had any major issues going between the surfaces, but the concerns are always there with an injury and not having played as long as I have.

Going to Doha, I was particularly worried about the level and the first set I played against Daniel Evans. I won it and surprised myself a little. Now we're on clay; I'm more focused on the clay than my opponent. Once I get healthy, that will increase my confidence.

I think then I'll be a part of the top tier. If you want to be in the top level, you need to play 50, 80 or 100 matches per season, which gets more challenging as you get older. You would think that the game has improved again, with many youngsters reaching the top-10.

It will be an extra challenge to find that level, but it was never going to be simple, whether I was out for three months or almost a year and a half," Roger Federer said.