It’s official! Roger Federer is all set to return to competitive action in March at the ATP 250 event in Doha, 13 months after playing on the tour at Australian Open 2020. The tennis great said he is gutted about missing the Australian Open 2021 action but wanted to return at a smaller tournament where there will be less stress on him.

Federer last played in the Australian Open 2020 semi-final wherein he lost to Novak Djokovic. The 20-time Grand Slam champion ruled himself out of the remainder of the season due to knee injury issues and underwent 2 surgeries last year.

Federer was part of the entry list for the Australian Open but he decided to pull out of the season’s first Grand Slam, starting February 8 in Melbourne as he wanted to focus on his long-term future and allow himself more time to recover. Notably, Federer had trained in the UAE in a bid to feature in the Australian Open but decided against it after discussions with his coaches Severin Luthi and Ivan Ljubicic and fitness coach Pierre Paganini.

“I have been thinking about when and where to come back for a long time. Australia was a touch too early because of my knee,” Federer told SRF Radio.

“I wanted to make my comeback at a smaller tournament so that I wasn’t fully in focus and where the stress is also a little less,” he added.

Speaking about his decision to miss Australian Open 2021, Federer said: “That hurts. It’s one of the places where I love to play the most.”

I will try to play on clay again: Federer

Federer stressed he will try to play in clay but his priority will be being fit and ready for Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics, and the US Open. Federer last played the French Open in 2019 wherein he ended a 3-year-absence from the action in clay.

“I will try to play on clay again. The whole thing, of course, with regard to Halle, Wimbledon, Olympia and the US Open,” he said.

Federer will certainly plan his stops on the tour more carefully than ever. The 39-year-old said he wants to enjoy playing the game for longer and he is preparing himself to go the long hard road.

“I want to celebrate great victories again. And for that I am ready to go the long, hard road,” Federer said.

“I like to play tennis for life. In the last few months, I have given a lot in rehab, in the conditioning area. I had to go through it, but I always enjoyed it. I actually thought that I would not follow the sport very much and would be more busy with my children and my rehab.

“I was surprised that I kept checking results and following matches. And normally I don’t do that at all if I don’t take part in a tournament.”

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