After the big comeback in Doha, Roger Federer should return to competition in Madrid in early May. Further on, Roland-Garros could emerge before the announced objectives: Wimbledon and the Olympics.
On the road to Roland-Garros, the Madrid tournament (May 2-9) will be particularly well attended. The Spanish tournament has confirmed the registration of Roger Federer (39 years old; 7th player in the world, his worst ranking since February 25, 2019). After a satisfactory comeback in Doha at the beginning of March (elimination in the quarterfinals by the Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili) following thirteen months away from the circuit (after two right knee operations), the Swiss explained that he needed to return to the race. ‘physical training (“five or six weeks, at least” rather than stringing together tournaments (he preferred to give up Dubai and Miami).
The last appearance of the Swiss legend on clay dates from the semi-final lost at Roland Garros against Rafael Nadal. In 2019. Almost two years ago… He had, that day, been blown away by the wind blowing in gusts and by the control of the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in 2h25. A hasty end of the course, a little dry after a tournament in which he had notably dominated Stan Wawrinka. It was his big return to Roland-Garros after three years of absence. Roger Federer had not tried to hide behind the vagaries of the wind which had thwarted the throws, the trajectories, he summed up: “I don’t think I played badly in the wind. It’s just that it’s difficult on clay. He’s the best player on clay so I can accept him. This is not a problem.”
In Madrid, Roger Federer engraved his name on the prize list in 2006 (he was a finalist in 2007). Roger Federer’s return to clay is an opportunity to recall that he is also a brilliant player on clay. His winning percentage rose to 76.1% (83.5% on hard and 87.4% on grass). He has won 11 of his 103 clay court titles (the last one being in 2015 in Istanbul). And in particular Roland-Garros in 2009 (it had 4 unfortunate finals during the French Open).
In an interview with the fashion magazine “Numéro Homme”, the player with 20 Grand Slam crowns (like Rafael Nadal) recently indicated: “I will not come back to play second rounds in a lost corner. I feel like I know what I need to do to get there. There is a part of dream and part of logic, it is a logical dream. I want to win big tournaments and beat the best players in the world. I work very hard for it, even if I don’t talk about it a lot. “
Asked about his plans for 2021, he had slipped, more enigmatic: “I will try one last thrust to see what remains in the tank.” His visit to Madrid and his performances will be particularly well attended. Federer back on earth, the season on clay which opens (Roland-Garros is still awaiting confirmation of his dates) could not ask for a better trailer.