Roger Federer said retirement was not really an option during his battle with injury, insisting on Sunday that the pain was completely “under control” ahead of his return to competitive tennis at this week’s Qatar Open. The 39-year-old has not played a match since Novak Djokovic’s semifinal defeat at the Australian Open in January 2020 and admitted that it was unusual for a player of his age to return after an injury. “I know it is rare for a 40-year-old man to come back after a year,” he said at a media briefing in the Qatari capital, Doha.
“The important thing is that I am pain free and injury free.
“I’m so happy to be back playing a tournament – I never thought it was going to be so long.”
On his rivalry with Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, who surpassed his record of 310 weeks as the world’s number one in men’s tennis this week, Federer said “it’s a great debate”.
“I think what Novak and Rafa have done as of late is extraordinary – they’re not even 25,” he said with a smile.
“Novak did it in Australia, Rafa did it in French – they are at their peak which is great for tennis and for debate.
“My concern is about my own health, my own game (more than the record).
“People are unrealistic, I hope they keep going and do everything they possibly can – you want to leave the game with no regrets, and in this regard we all sleep very well at night Huh.”
The 20-time Grand Slam title winner, Federer, said that “expectations are very low” for his campaign in Qatar, hoping to surprise himself.
“Clearly I believe otherwise I wouldn’t put myself in this position,” he said ahead of his first fixture which would take place on Tuesday or Wednesday.
“In a vision I see myself with the trophy,” he said with a laugh.
Federer said the complications following his knee surgery prompted him to return to form.
“I knew I wanted to do this rehab for my life somehow, regardless of whether I came back or not,” he said.
“I think there is still something – retirement was never really on the cards. I have no objection to rehab.”
Looking ahead, Federer said he hoped to return “100 percent” to Wimbledon in June, but had not decided on the tournament before or after the Olympics.
“It’s still building to be fitter, better, faster,” he said.
“I’ll see about Dubai … then we’ll see about the clay court season.”
Federer said that while he was disappointed not to return to the full house due to Qatar’s coronovirus prevention measures, he was happy for some fans.
“I am happy that I am playing again and am excited to experience what it will sound like,” he said.
“Nobody wants this (but) to be anything good other than zero … You have some passionate people.”
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