The expectation of the fans is now nearing its end. After more than a year of absence, Roger Federer is set to return to action this week in the ATP 250 in Doha. The former world number 1, who has not played an official match since the semi-final of the 2020 Australian Open against Novak Djokovic, has recently arrived in Qatar and will make his debut on Tuesday or Wednesday against the winner of the match between Daniel Evans and Jeremy Chardy. Many wonder what the 39-year-old Swiss will be like after two knee surgeries, even if the videos leaked in the last few hours show a Roger in good physical condition. The former world number 1 will use this appointment as a testing ground to assess his form, with the intention of being 100% found for Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics in the summer. To celebrate Federer’s return to the tour, several Swiss tennis figures shared their thoughts on the 20-time Grand Slam champion. One of the most influential was Heinz Gunthardt, former Fed Cup captain and great friend of the King.
Gunthardt on Roger Federer
“The goosebumps were missing,” Heinz Gunthardt said. “What to expect from Roger Federer? It’s like a good crime thriller: you don’t know what to expect. Roger is breaking new ground – nobody has done it before at this age and with his ambitions.” Marco Chiudinelli, Roger Federer’s childhood friend and former World No. 52, also spoke in glowing terms about the Swiss legend. Chiudinelli believes Federer hasn’t lost his racket-skills, and he claimed that the World No. 6’s body hasn’t seen any notable deterioration. “Roger can play it there in Doha with ease and see where he stands,” Chiudinelli said. “He has certainly not forgotten how to play tennis and not lost much physically. If everything comes together, Roger can still beat the very best.” Following his first knee surgery in February last year, Roger Federer was expected to be ready in time for Wimbledon. The Swiss star would have missed the claycourt season, but that had been a common occurrence for even a healthy Federer in recent years. Fate, however, dealt the 39-year-old a cruel hand. A setback on his injured knee during his initial rehabilitation meant that Federer had no choice but to undergo a second procedure, which ruled him out of the rest of the 2020 sesaon. The questions started raising their ugly head soon after his announcement. Would Federer would ever be able to return to the sport? If he did, would he stand a chance against the fitter, younger and stronger players? The doubts began creeping up fast and furious in the minds of not only Federer’s critics, but some of his fans as well.