Roger Federer fighting his way back to competitive tennis after a year out injured is testament to his love of the game, says Mats Wilander.
Federer is all set to make his comeback on Wednesday at the Qatar Open in Doha after requiring two operations on a long-standing knee injury last year.
He himself has admitted he doesn’t know if his body will stand up to the test, but Wilander thinks the fact Federer is willing to take the risk at his age is telling.
“The fact that he returns at almost 40-years-old shows the incredible passion that drives him,” Wilander told L’Equipe of Federer.
“I’ve never seen anyone who loves tennis as much as Roger Federer. Nadal has a love for the competition, but Federer loves the game.
“This comeback shows that Roger has guts. He is not afraid of losing 6-1 6-1 against a rookie and damaging his image, many would be while Federer only thinks about solving his problems.”
Federer made a stunning comeback from injury the last time he was struck down by injury, although Wilander has warned against making any assumptions that it will be a similar story this time around.
“For his first comeback, in 2017, he had reinvented a way of playing,” Wilander explained.
“He had decided to stay on the baseline, which meant playing fewer forehands (for lack of time to get around his backhand) and hitting his backhands, not hitting them for effect.
“An extraordinary performance when mastering the one-handed backhand. With a clear strategy: shorten the duration of the exchanges, conquer the net and make the opponent uncomfortable.
“I don’t know if this time he has invented a new concept, but I guess it remains in the same logic: for his return, the main question will revolve around his speed of travel.
“Will he have the legs to defend as well as he did in the past?”
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