The big news on the men’s tour since the Australian Open was that Roger Federer committed to return to clay for the first time since 2016 Rome. Federer, who’ll be back on the clay in Madrid, explained what led to the decision in Dubai on Sunday.
“I think the decision was based purely on I would like to play the clay again,” Federer said.
“I think after not playing for two years, also missing the French three years ago because of injury, I think the team understood that I was in the mood to do it again. I did grow up on clay, after all. I felt like my body is strong enough now again to do the surface changes from hard to clay to grass to hard again. In the past I felt different. I felt like it would be nice to go from hard to grass to hard, stay on faster surfaces.
“Quite honestly, I was also happy to take two, three months away from the game, enjoy family, enjoy being away with my friends and everything, but training really hard that when I did come back, making Wimbledon sort of my top priority. It paid off the year before. Not the last time now.
“That’s not the reason why I’m putting the clay back on. It was purely based on I would just like to play. We can always readjust the schedule accordingly depending how I play the clay. The calendar is always flexible.
“Instead of taking a big chunk off, I’d rather stay in the rhythm and actually enjoy myself on the clay.
“It’s going to be challenging, no doubt about it. I have to take baby steps in the beginning to some extent, but that’s okay.”
The 37-year-old Federer began his bid for a 100th career ATP title and 8th in Dubai today with a 3-set win over Philipp Kohlschreiber.
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