Roger Federer is looking forward to making his Qatar Open debut in Doha this week, in what effectively represents his first tournament in more than a year away. The Swiss phenomenon, who has not set foot on the pitch since the Australian Open 2020, has undergone two surgeries on his right knee that have kept him out for most of last season.
The first opponent on his path will come out of the match between Daniel Evans and Jeremy Chardy scheduled for Tuesday. The 39-year-old from Basel is the No. 2 seed in Doha, while the big favorite for the title is undoubtedly Dominic Thiem.
However, the Austrian and Swiss will have to watch out for tricky players of the caliber of Andrey Rublev (freshly won in Rotterdam), Roberto Bautista Agut, Denis Shapovalov and Stan Wawrinka. In a press conference before his debut against Aslan Karatsev, Thiem expressed his admiration for the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
Everyone can't wait to admire King Roger again with a racket in hand.
Thiem pays tribute to Roger Federer
"We are rivals, and of course we want to beat each other in the tournament, [but] I still really love to watch Roger Federer play tennis," Dominic Thiem said.
"[He] looks so nice, the way he plays, the way he approaches the game of tennis." Dominic Thiem was quick to mention that he is glad the 20-time Grand Slam champion has returned to compete on tour, claiming he is still a 'big fan'
"On the one hand, I'm also a big fan of his still, and that's why I really love that he's back and that I can watch him again," Thiem said. "That's what pretty much everybody is thinking, and I hope that he's coming back strong, as well."
The former World Number 1, who is currently tied with old enemy Rafael Nadal for the most number of Grand Slam titles in the men’s game, took a break from tennis to recuperate from a knee surgery that he underwent after the Australian Open last year.
Both Dominic Thiem and Roger Federer will also be playing at the ATP 500 event in Dubai next week, for which Federer accepted a last-minute wildcard. "Actually, I don’t have good memories of Doha. At my first three starts highlights have been scarce," Thiem wrote in a blogpost on his website.
"At least in 2018 I reached the semifinal. However, I had to withdraw before the match against Gael Monfils due to a cold. What are my expectations at my fourth start in the sheikhdom? Honestly – I can’t tell exactly where I am at.
I want to find my rhythm as fast as possible, gaining self-confidence through victories and perform well."