Roger Federer has confirmed he will make his return to competitive tennis in Doha next month after a 13-month absence from the sport.
Former world No. 1 Federer has not played since the semi-finals of last year’s Australian Open, where he was beaten by eventual winner Novak Djokovic, and revealed at the end of 2020 that he would not participate in this season’s edition of the major as his rehabilitation from knee surgery continues.
In an interview with Swiss broadcaster SRF, the 20-time Grand Slam champion said: “I thought for a long time when and where I should come back. Australia was still a bit too early because of my knee.”
He expressed his sadness at having to miss the event for the first time in his career.
“It hurts,” he said. “It’s one of the places where I like to play.”
The 39-year-old Basel-born player underwent two operations on his right knee last year, the second one in June, and his progress since has been slower than he had hoped.
Federer is a six-time champion in Melbourne and made a spectacular return from surgery on his left knee by winning his first major title for four-and-a-half years in 2017.
On why he chose the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, which gets under way on 8 March, for his return, Federer said: “I wanted to make my comeback at a smaller tournament, where the stress is also a little less.”
And he remains hopeful of adding to his major titles haul, adding: “I want to celebrate big victories once again. And for that I am ready to go the long, hard way.”
At last year’s French Open, rival Rafael Nadal joined Federer on 20 Slam wins.
The Spaniard’s participation at this year’s Australian Open, where he could finally overtake Federer’s number of major victories, is in doubt after he suffered an injury scare ahead of the competition.
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