2020 was a bad year for Roger Federer. He underwent a knee surgery in January, and a second one in June. In between, he lost his Australian Open semi-final match against Novak Djokovic. Following his second surgery, and with tennis coming to a halt due to the covid-19 pandemic, Federer had considered retiring from tennis.
However, he recently told the Swiss broadcaster SRF that he is hoping to make his comeback later this year. Federer won't be at the Australian Open this year, but he says he plans to regain his fitness and match-sharpness by playing in smaller tournaments in 2021.
The 39-year-old is tied with Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam titles. Federer won his 20th Grand Slam in 2018 when he won the Australian Open. He hasn't played a competitive match since his semi-final defeat last year.
"I want to celebrate great victories again. And for that I'm ready to go the long, hard road," Federer told SRF. "I've been thinking about when and where to come back for a long time. I wanted to make my comeback at a smaller tournament so that I wasn't fully in focus and where the stress is also a little less."
In December, Federer's agent Tony Godsick had said that he was in the process of building a playing calendar for the player from late February onwards.
According to SRF, Federer could make his comeback at the ATP 250 tournament in Doha, which is currently slated to run from March 8-13. The ATP 250 is a tournament that Federer has won three times before.
The Swiss tennis legend admitted to SRF that he has continued to keep track of results on the ATP Tour while he worked his way back to fitness.
"I actually thought that I would not follow the sport very much and would be more busy with my children and my rehab," he said, adding, "I was surprised that I kept checking results and watching matches. And normally I don't do that at all if I don't take part in a tournament."
Despite turning 40 in August, Federer remains one of the most durable tennis players ever. In 2017, he recovered from a knee surgery and a subsequent six-month break from the game to win Wimbledon and the Australian Open. He won the Australian Open again in 2018, and at 36, became the oldest man to regain the world No. 1 ranking.
With inputs from Reuters.