Roger Federer says retirement was never an option during his battle with injury, insisting the recovery from knee surgery is “completely under control” ahead of his return to competitive tennis at this week’s Qatar Open.
The 39-year-old hasn’t played a match since a semi-final defeat by Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January 2020 and acknowledged it was unusual for a player of his age to return after injury.
“I know it’s on the rare side for a 40-year-old to come back after a year out,” he said at a media briefing in the Qatari capital Doha.
“I feel there is still something — retirement was never really on the cards.”
Federer, who underwent two knee surgeries in 2020, added: “The important thing is I’m pain free and injury free.
“I’m very happy to be back playing a tournament — I never thought it was going to take this long.” While he was out of action, he saw Rafael Nadal equal his record of 20 Grand Slam titles with a 13th Roland Garros triumph.
Djokovic, meanwhile, captured a ninth Australian Open last month, to take his career Slam tally to 18.
On his rivalry with Nadal and Djokovic, who on Monday will overtake his record of 310 weeks as world number one, Federer said “it’s a great debate to have”.
“I think what Novak and Rafa have done of late is extraordinary – they’re not 25 either,” he said with a smile.