Although we have recently left behind the first Grand Slam of the season, last week was one of the most exciting in this early 2021. The reason is simple: Roger Federer is back on the pitch in Doha, ending an absence of almost 14 months.
There was obviously enormous curiosity about the state of form of the Swiss, whose last official tournament dates back to the Australian Open 2020. Fresh from a double operation on his right knee, the 39-year-old from Basel surrendered in the quarterfinals to Nikoloz Basilashvili, also wasting a match point in the third set.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion has shown a good physical condition, but he will have to improve a lot if he wants to go to Wimbledon with a chance of winning. For this reason, King Roger chose not to compete in the Dubai tournament and opted for an additional training block in view of the clay court season.
In a press conference after beating Reilly Opelka in the first round of the Dubai Open, Kei Nishikori dwelt at length on Federer's return. The Japanese, who underwent surgery on his right elbow last year, believes that the Master's level was quite good considering the very long stop.
Nishikori on Roger Federer
"Roger Federer is a monster in a good way," Kei Nishikori said. "He played two solid matches, that was unexpected. He played a pretty good game. Of course, having been one year off he was a little bit off, you know.
But he still played great. Not everybody could do that." Kei Nishikori also revealed that he would like to play Roger Federer again, before insisting that the Swiss was still capable of challenging for Slam titles. "Hopefully he can come back strong and hope we can play couple matches, you know, on the courts," the Japanese said.
"I always enjoyed playing against him and I'm sure he can come back winning Slams again." Making a successful comeback to the top rungs of the game is not child's play, as Kei Nishikori himself pointed out.
That said, Roger Federer is no stranger to putting together a fairytale season after a long layoff. For Federer’s world of fans, it’s a question that’s best avoided or ignored, but Roger Federer surely isn’t ducking under it.
The twenty-time Grand Slam champion has opened up on how long he intends to extend his career and his plans after tennis. “I try to see how much more is left in the tank for me, how much more success can I have,” Federer said, adding that it is after a studious assessment of where he is at physically that he will take a call on his future in the game.