Despite knee surgery and spring back pains, Roger Federer says deep in his heart he knew he would not be missing Wimbledon.
The 17-time grand slam winner, with seven titles at the All England Club in his pocket, said that he had been through hell in 2016, with an unexpected operation a few days after the Australian Open combined with a viral illness and back pains.
The circumstances conspired to keep the 34-year-old third seed out of the French Open and much of the proceeding clay season.
But missing the treasured grass season would have been an entirely different – and much more serious – matter for the Swiss.
“I honestly never thought I was going to miss Wimbledon, especially after surgery,” Federer said as he prepared for Monday’s start of play in between rain showers.
“I knew I had so much time to make it here, I knew I was going to be fine somehow.” The Swiss said that after he withdrew from Roland Garros, he may have had fleeting doubts about Wimbledon. But two weeks or rest and training followed by tune-ups on German grass in Stuttgart and Halle (both semi-finals) put him physically and mentally right for the grand slam.
“Did I quickly worry after pulling out of Paris? A little bit potentially, just because… how many more weeks you have.
“That’s why I’m here as well now, this is s huge boost for me after pulling out of Paris. I’m back here at my favourite tournament.
“With all the success I’ve had here, this is the motivation I need right now to get back on the big courts, play good matches, enjoy Wimbledon.” Federer cannot hide his admiration for the event where he made his name. “I love this tournament more than anything. It’s a huge opportunity for me to maybe turn around the season.
“Who knows, just play some nice tennis, enjoy myself here.” Federer is wisely looking past his grass pedigree and taking his upcoming challenge a step at a time.
“Clearly I’m not thinking of the title right away. It’s too far ahead, it’s too far. Novak (Djokovic) or Andy (Murray) are the big favourites in my opinion. They’ve had such a great last six months, last few years. To me they are the ones to beat.
“I need to focus on myself, getting myself into those positions, meaning second week, growing momentum, you know, the whole thing starts rolling then hopefully. Clearly important is getting there, getting the job done in the first week.” Federer has landed in the top half of the draw and starts with Argentine Guido Pella in the first round.
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