Roger Federer admits “it’s great to be back” as the Swiss great returns to the tennis scene in Stuttgart after missing the entire clay-court season.
Federer begins preparing for the defence of his Wimbledon title, where he will be going for a ninth title, when he opens his Stuttgart campaign against German serve-and-volleyer Mischa Zverev in the first round on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old Swiss star says is looking forward to the grass court season after spending three months away from the sport.
His last appearance on a tennis court came at the Miami Open in March where he suffered a shock first-round exit to Australian youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis.
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Federer returns to action on Wednesday against Mischa Zverev (5-0 H2H). Following a perfect 17-0 start to season, Federer has lost his last two matches. He hasn’t dropped three matches in a row since losing four straight in 2002.
“It’s great to be back, to enjoy actually being with the players, you know. For three months I hardly saw any, I also didn’t watch much TV or much tennis on the TV, because, as I didn’t play it at all, there was not really purpose for me to watch it and I am busy anyway as it is with my children, with training,” said Federer.
“We also went on vacation, we had a really nice time, the last three months went by in a flash, which shows that I was busy and I had a good time. And I think it’s a great place to come back to here in Stuttgart. Unfortunately, it didn’t go so well here last year, but this year, as I am feeling so good about my game already so early in the season on the grass, I am very hopeful that I can go deep this week.”
Federer will be hoping to do better in Stuttgart than he did last year, when he lost his opening match of the tournament to Tommy Haas.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion is also hoping to reclaim the world No 1 ranking. He will overhaul Rafael Nadal at the top of the rankings if he reaches the final on Sunday.
“It feels like there are different steps this week. Number one, to win my first round. I didn’t do that last year, losing to Tommy Haas in the first round having had match points. So, that was a stinger. That’s my first goal this year, to win my first round and then my next goal will be to make the finals, that would clinch world number one again, at least for a week, that’d be fun. And after that, try to win the title.
“But we go step by step, I have a lot of good players around me in the draw and I think it’s a tricky one, but I am very excited to be here.”