ECONOMY

Federer: ‘I was willing to take the losses just for Wimbledon’

L

esser players might have called time on their careers after double knee surgery, even more so with the dents that Roger Federer took on court in the four months since his return.

He just about edged past Dan Evans in his comeback match in Qatar only to lose in the next round. Losses followed in the first round in Geneva and also early in Halle, a tournament he has won 10 times and habitually used to announce his readiness to the rest of the Wimbledon draw.

And yet all the hardship and heartache of another return from injury at the age of 39 was aimed at the two weeks of Wimbledon.

There were signs he might not even make it past day two until Adrian Mannarino heard a crack in his knee and bowed out in the fifth set.

The signs are the sacrifices have been worth it, and after a straight-sets last-16 win over Lorenzo Sonego yesterday, he reiterated his primary reason for returning.

“I was willing to take losses for the sake of information,” he said. “Just to be out there, get the body in shape for hopefully when Wimbledon comes around that I can actually wake up in the morning and feel alright, that I can still go out and play five sets.

“When you’re young, you don’t ask yourself the question but, when you’re me with the year I had, it’s all question marks all over the place. You have to prove it again to yourself that you can actually do it.”

Mannarino aside, it has been an impressive exercise in damage limitation. Of his other three matches, two have been won in straight sets while Britain’s Cameron Norrie pushed him to a fourth. All the while, it doesn’t look like Federer has needed to push himself into top gear.

Quite what happens when forced to do that on both body and mind is unclear. He is potentially two matches away from another Grand Slam final with Novak Djokovic, who has looked the class of the field so far.

On court, Federer effectively said he had survived another day, the only important facet at this stage.

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