Modest hopes for Federer ahead of injury comeback in Monte Carlo

Roger Federer was giving absolutely no guarantees about his form as he prepare for his first competitive match in more than two months at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner will be starting afresh in the second round on the Monte Carlo Country Club clay after his early February knee operation.

“I am rested mentally and physically. I believe you can add everything to the back end of your career, in terms of being fresher mentally and being able to train harder. Whatever rest it is, it ends up in a canister you can draw from,” said the Swiss, who underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery for a meniscus tear after his semi-final showing in Melbourne.

“Tommy Haas, for instance, has been injured for more than three years in his career, and he is still on tour because mentally he is fresh and he still loves it.”

After hitting for nearly a week at the seaside venue overlooking the Mediterranean, the Swiss said that next week will be key for deciding his further schedule ahead of the French Open - the second major of the season.

“I don't think about the Roland Garros title. I believe I can do it; every event at the Grand Slam gives me another opportunity to do that,” the 2009 Paris champion added.

“I've been training super hard on clay, I'll be able to decide better about playing any of the Masters 1000 tournaments which come later (Madrid and Rome next month) - one, two or even none.

“Everything is flexible, you are automatically entered in Masters 1000 events, there is nothing I can do about that. Everyone thinks I've entered Madrid and Rome.

“It's bad spin when you pull out and people think you've let the tournament down. But I know I can always add a Madrid or a Rome to my calendar.”

The 34-year-old Federer had been slated to return at the Miami Open, but was forced to pull out due to illness.

“I’m happy to say that I’ve recovered well from the virus in Miami,” Federer said on Sunday during his pre-tournament press conference at the Monte Carlo. “At first, I was concerned that it might be something that would last a while, but I was feeling better three days later. I arrived in Monte Carlo nine or 10 days ago and I’ve been training on centre court for the past eight or nine days. Things are going well. I’m happy with how I move; how I’m hitting the ball. I’ve played a lot of practice sets.”

The additional preparation has been a boon for the four-time finalist (2006-08, 2014), who is looking to win the Monte Carlo for the first time.

“Monte Carlo is an opportunity for top guys to play more freely, since there is less pressure and it’s a change of surface for everyone,” Federer, who lost to Rafael Nadal in his first three finals and to Stan Wawrinka two years ago. “I’ve played very well in Monaco in the past, but for now my objective is to make my return to play, gain a good feel and go from there.

“My knee hasn’t bothered me, but the big test will be seeing how it reacts in match conditions. There are no easy draws in a Masters 1000, so I am not underestimating anyone. At the same time, I hope no one is underestimating me just because I’ve been hurt.”

As he prepares for the second round against either Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci and Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Federer will be organising his comeback strategy on the fly.

“If I win the tournament, that changes everyhing. If I lose 0-0 in the first match, that changes everything. I'll know more in two weeks and I can decide the week before Madrid if I will go there or not.”

Date: 10 April 2016, Source: AFP and ATP


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