Roger Federer: ‘I can’t match Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic now; I’m focused on..’

The 20-time Major champion Roger Federer was among the players to beat in 2019, battling against much younger opponents and finishing the season inside the top-3 behind Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Staying injury-free for three seasons, the Swiss was a Major and Masters 1000 contender, hoping for a similar run in 2020. Roger reached the Australian Open semi-final in January last year before experiencing a knee injury that required surgery in February. Feeling the pain, Roger underwent another procedure in May and stayed away from the practice court until the season’s closing stages, missing the rest of 2020 and focusing on 2021.

Working hard in Dubai and at home in Switzerland, Roger made a long-awaited return in March in Doha, beating Daniel Evans in three tight sets before squandering a match point versus Nikoloz Basilashvili. Taking more time off the court, Federer will return to action at the ATP 250 Geneva event on Tuesday, facing Pablo Andujar in the second round. In the pre-event press conference, Roger said that he can’t think about matching Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal at the moment, staying focused on his game and hoping to get back at 100% by the grass season.

Roger Federer spoke about his expectations ahead of the upcoming events.

“I need to play ten matches to give you a better answer about my level. Things have been going well in practice. When you come back from an injury, you’re in a different place than everyone else. I am excited about the comeback and won’t be focused on being at the same level as Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic right now. I was happy that the knee didn’t feel any different from hard to clay, and I expect the same in the switch from clay to grass. I’ve never had any major issues going between the surfaces, but with an injury and not having played as long as I have, the concerns are always there. So far, the clay has been good for me, and I hope it will be good for me for the grass. I haven’t watched that much, but every time I have watched, I’ve been impressed. I’ve been excited to find out how I’ll fare.

Going to Doha, I was particularly worried about the level and the first set I played with Daniel Evans; I won it, and I surprised myself a little. Now we’re on clay; I’m more focused on the clay than my opponent. Once I get healthy and matches under my belt, that will increase my confidence. I think then I’ll be a part of the top tier. If you want to be in the top level, you need to play 50, 80 or 100 matches per season, which gets more challenging as you get older. One thing is for sure, that the generation of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev have all gotten better with more experience. Dominic Thiem won a Major in the meantime, and Rafa and Novak are still where they are. You would think that the game has improved again. It will be an extra challenge to find that level, but it was never going to be simple, whether I was out for three months or almost a year and a half,” Roger Federer said.

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