Roger Federer only plays competitive tennis when he knows he can play well, according to a leading member of his team.
The former world No.1 is nearing his return to the Tour after being absent for more than a year due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures. The second was done after the first failed to give the desired results. He last played at the 2020 Australian Open where he lost in the semi-finals to Novak Djokovic.
Opting to miss the start of this season in order to recover further from his injury, Federer has been training in the Middle East. Overseeing his fitness programme is Pierre Paganini who has been part of the team for many years.
“This knee had been causing him problems for several years. But he could have them under control, with adapted planning and specific exercises,” Paganini told the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.
“He and the whole team had been working on it for a long time. The fact that a player who has played more out of 1500 games having multiple surgeries on his body is part of everyday life.’
“Roger is someone who always sees things positively. And as long as he could play and train freely, it wasn’t a big problem either. When he did it and decided to have surgery, he assumed all responsibility.”
Throughout his injury-related timeout Federer has largely avoided the limelight and shared few details about the extent of the issues he was facing. It is not the first time he has been troubled by physical issues after also missing the second half of the 2016 season due to his knee. Although this time around the recovery process was more problematic with his trainer revealing for the first time the extent it had on his muscles in the affected region.
“The big difference from 2016 is that when he took a break after Wimbledon in 2016, his muscles were always there. Now we had a total break where the muscles deteriorated considerably. It was a long time between the first operation and the time of July (when he had his second). In which we said we could gradually start working again,” he commented.
“His muscles were no longer in the same condition, the imbalances were extreme. His muscles could no longer work immediately and needed more recovery time.”
“Towards the beginning of October, we started (training) at the lowest level. However, we tried from the beginning to incorporate coordination aspects into the structure,” Paganini added.
This August Federer, who is currently the oldest player in the ATP top 100, will turn 40 as questions arises about how much longer he could continue playing for. He has previously outlined his desire to peak in time for Wimbledon where he will be seeking a ninth major title, as well as the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Although the prospect of a triumphant return is one that his trainer is cautious about. Who has cast doubt on the chances of a similar run occurring to when he returned from his past knee problem at the start of 2017 by winning the Australian Open.
“It’s a bit early to answer this question,” Paganini replied when asked about Federer’s title chances.
“The opponents are strong, tennis is getting stronger. And he made one decisive contribution to it. So it is almost his fault that it is so.’
“But I would like to emphasize that he also knows that the road will be a little longer. I cannot imagine him not asking questions about the withdrawal (retirement).”
It is evident that the Federer camp is going down the lines of ‘wait and see what happens.’ Although there are promising signs emerging from those familiar with his current situation.
“He trains practically normally. If you could see him, you would say: he is not injured, everything is fine,” Paganini stated.
“But we must not forget only when all the stages are finished does reactivity begin to work. This is very important in tennis. We’ve been working on that for a long time, and that’s where you can see if the puzzle works, in all its variants. That’s where we are now. This is good for him because it took an incredible amount of patience to get to this point. . It’s crazy thinking about all this. “
Federer is set to return to action at the Qatar Open which will get underway on March 8th. Despite his lengthy absence from the sport he is still ranked fifth in the world due to changes made to the points system last year related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nikoloz Basilashvili survives scare in Sardinia
The third day of the Italian 250 event saw a trio of seeded players secure their places in the quarter-finals.
A strong Mediterranean wind was not enough to blow away Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Sardegna Open as he came through a tense 3-setter against Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik.
The fourth seed’s typically aggressive style at times threatened to prove his undoing in Cagliari. A topsy-turvy encounter in blustery conditions was ultimately defined by the marathon tenth game in the deciding set, Kovalik missing five match points as his opponent’s serve just about held firm. Basilashvili then immediately broke himself, going on to complete a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, victory.
He will take on Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarter-finals. The fifth seed overpowered Britain’s Liam Broady 6-4 6-2, a much-improved performance from the German after his nervy first-round slugfest with Joao Sousa.
Qualifier Broady, whose strong start to the year has seen him reach a career-high ranking of 152, started well. He broke the fifth seed in the second game, but Struff was able to respond immediately before going on to take the first set 6-4. The Brit faded in the second set, Struff’s superior ranking showing as he overpowered his opponent with some brutal forehands and booming serves. If both men bring their best form, his match-up with Basilashvili on Friday should be an entertaining encounter.
Elsewhere, Aljaz Bedene defeated Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 7-6(5). Fresh from an impressive win over Guido Pella in round one, qualifier Gerasimov would have had high hopes to progress further, facing an opponent ranked only 22 places higher. It looked good for the Belarussian as he edged a break ahead early on, but the ever-reliable Bedene reeled off three games in a row to take the first set. A similarly tight second set looked to be going Gerasimov’s way when he stormed to a 4-0 lead in the tie break, but Bedene once again took charge, winning 7 of the next 8 points to book a spot in the next round.
His opponent there will be second seed Taylor Fritz, who enjoyed a relatively easy ride in the final match of the day. He breezed through the opening set against Andrej Martin 6-2, looking strong in his first outing on clay in 2021. The players traded two breaks each in the second set before Fritz took the tie break 7-4. This week is the first tournament Fritz is playing as American No.1 after recently overtaking John Isner.
Roger Federer Set To Start Clay Campaign In Madrid
The world No.7 will be back on the Tour shortly as he seeks his first title since the 2019 Swiss Indoors.
20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is set to return to competitive tennis later this month after being included in the entry list for a key Masters 1000 tournament.
The former world No.1 is currently down to play the Madrid Open which will start on April 30th and takes place over 10 days. Federer returned to the Tour at the Dubai Tennis Championships last month in what was his first tournament in over a year due to a knee injury which required two operations. In Dubai he reached the quarter-finals before losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili who went on to win the title.
Since then the Swiss maestro has returned to the practice courts to “work his way back out on tour,” according to his agent Tony Godsick. Federer has already confirmed that he will play on the clay this season but admits that it is because he has little choice. The 39-year-old has already stated that his goal is to be in top shape in time for the grass-court swing which starts after the French Open.
“What comes before the grass courts are the clay courts,” Federer told reporters on March 11th. “So I have no choice but to play on clay if I want to play matches.
“The clay could be good or bad for me. I will only know in practice, but I don’t think it’s going to be bad. I assume I will play some clay.”
It isn’t the first time Federer has started his return to the clay in Madrid. In 2019 he played his first match on the surface in almost three years at the tournament after skipping the clay-court season the two previous years.
Also on the Madrid entry list is Federer’s rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who both missed the Miami Open. Dominic Thiem is also set to play in the tournament after he recently announced a delay to his return to professional tennis because he isn’t ready to compete yet.
The Madrid Open has been largely dominated by the Big Four (including Andy Murray) for more than a decade. Since 2008 only one player outside of the quartet has won the title which was Alexander Zverev back in 2018. Last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rafael Nadal Will Be Ready For Start Of Clay Season, Says Doctor
A member of Nadal’s team has issued some encouraging news.
It appears that Rafael Nadal’s recent woes are behind him as he looks to get back on track at next week’s Monte Carlo Masters.
The 34-year-old hasn’t played a tournament since his loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open earlier this year. Throughout the first quarter of the season Nadal has been troubled by a back problem which he first picked up in Melbourne. The injury forced him to pull out of both the Rotterdam Open and Miami Masters. Overall, he has played just five matches so far in 2021.
Nadal will be looking to regain momentum on his beloved clay. A surface which he has won 60 ATP titles on, including a record 13 French Open trophies. According to his doctor, Ángel Ruiz-Cotorro, the world No.3 is ‘training well’ at present.
“He is training well, he is training hard. His goal is clay. First is Monte Carlo and his final goal is Roland Garros. It is clear,” Cotorro told RTVE.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion will be seeking his 12th title in Monte Carlo in what is a tournament record. He has won three out of the four past editions with the only exception being Fabio Fognini who won the title in 2019. Last year’s tournament was axed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking further on in the calendar, Nadal is expected to play tournaments in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome before the French Open which is set to start in May. Although it is possible that his commitments could change. A member of the French government has also admitted that it is possible that Roland Garros could be delayed for a second year in a row due to the pandemic but no such change has been formally announced.
So far in his career Nadal has won 86 ATP titles and earned more then $123 million in prize money. He is only the fourth player in the Open Era to have won 1000 or more matches on the men’s Tour.
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