Roger Federer conveyed mixed feelings on his return to the pitch in Doha last week. The Swiss phenomenon, who failed to go beyond the quarter-finals (wasting a match point against Basilashvili), once again highlighted his subtle touch, but it seemed clear to everyone that he will have to improve a lot physically if he wants to have a chance at Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics.
The former world number 1 has given up on the ATP 500 Dubai and will not take part in the Masters 1000 in Miami, where he would have been called to defend the title he won two years ago at Hard Rock Stadium. His name does not even appear on the entry list of the Monte Carlo Masters, casting an aura of mystery on the programming of the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
Marc Rosset, who is best remembered for winning singles gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, analyzed King Roger's chances in the coming months. Interviewed by 'L'Equipe', the former ATP number 9 explained that it would be important for Federer to play some tournaments on clay.
Rosset on Roger Federer
"Roger Federer saw that maybe he was lacking a bit of physical preparation," Marc Rosset said. "So I think it's going to be interesting for him to really play as many matches as possible on clay."
Rosset suggested that Federer is unlikely to get by with serve-and-volley at Wimbledon, as the homogenization of surfaces has helped baseliners more than first-strike players. "(Playing on clay) will allow him to do a little land work, to get a bit of a physical shape," Marc Rosset said.
"Especially since Wimbledon is hardly won by serving-and-volleying, it is won from the baseline." While Roger Federer has been able to deliver on grass even after his peak, he has struggled on the slower surfaces of late.
The 39-year-old hasn't played much on clay over the past few years, but he might be forced to change his strategy in his latest comeback. Though Federer is preparing for the grass-court season, eyeing a winning return to Wimbledon, the lightning-quick hard courts of Dubai would present a good test for his knees and help him find his groove.
The Swiss champion underwent knee surgery after making a semi-final exit at last year’s Australian Open. He later issued a statement saying he was taking an indefinite break from tennis to allow himself more time for rehabilitation and recovery.