After withdrawing from his fifth event of 2016 yesterday in Madrid, Roger Federer remains confident about the French Open which begins in less than three weeks.
“I do believe I have chances there,” Federer said of the French Open. “The problem in the past has been more Rafa than the clay itself. If you take Rafa out of the equation I would’ve had an amazing clay court career. I still with him I’ve had a great clay court career.
“It’s still the surface where I did grow up. Still a surface I feel comfortable on. I’ve spent maybe most time of my life on that surface.
“I probably can enter the French Open or clay court season with maybe a little bit less expectations because you guys expect less from me. I’m not the overwhelming favorite in those events, and sometimes that can be helpful, too. I still put pressure on myself wanting to go far and deep and play well.”
The Swiss, who completed his career Slam there in 2009 beating Robin Soderling, hasn’t reached the French semifinals since his 2012 runner-up finish.
Due to a knee injury Federer withdrew from Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells. A stomach issue kept him out of Miami and a back forced him to pull out of Madrid.
“I am frustrated,” Federer said. “I’m a little sad of course not to be playing here. At the same time, I’m still upbeat that the back issue is going to go away. I would rather have it being the back than the knee. So from that standpoint I see it as more positive than negative, to be honest.
“This is not the knee, it’s the back, so it’s different. Clearly it’s not a help. Nevertheless, I’ve been able to practice as much as I’ve wanted to. I came back on tour quicker than I thought I would. So in terms of schedule, I guess I still am still somewhat on par.”
The 34-year-old is confident about resuming his season next week in Rome.
“Now that I don’t have any matches, clearly I always need goals that you work forward to,” he said. “The goal now is to play Rome and hopefully arrive there somewhat early so I have a good preparation, and, you know, that I can play hopefully a good tournament.
“Still, again, let’s see how my back is going to be and my preparation. If I can’t play Rome it’s not the end of the world. The goal clearly now is to play there and do well, like I did last year.”
And he’s not worried about his lack of match play for Paris.
“I’m ready and okay. I don’t need always a lot, lot of matches to feel 100% ready. Before the Australian Open also we only play a handful of matches and you got to be ready. With my experience and the way I feel about big tournaments, if I have matches, great. If I don’t, I trust in my game, in my mind that I’ll be fine regardless of the preparation, to be honest.”
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