Roger Federer says his game “is perfectly suited for the grass” and is eager to get a win under his belt at Gerry Weber Open in Halle as he gears up for another tilt at Wimbledon.
The world No 5, who was stunned by 302nd ranked after his long-awaited comeback in Stuttgart last week, faces Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun in his opening game in Halle, a tournament the 18-time Grand Slam champion has won eight times.
Federer, who sat out the entire clay court season to prepare his bid for an eighth Wimbledon crown, says he had no regrets about missing the French Open to focus on Wimbledon but said it was a move he was unlikely to repeat.
“When I returned to Switzerland I just didn’t feel mentally and physically I was ready to play the French Open because the big goal for me was Wimbledon and the two tournaments with Stuttgart and Halle, so I didn’t want to jeopardise my chances for the grass court season,” Federer said.
“Also for the rest of the season I just wanted to be as healthy as possible and not compromise anything. The decision came down to not playing Paris – it was a tough one – and the first time in my life when I pulled out of a Grand Slam feeling fine just as I was told I was ready to go.
“It would have been the unknown to switch surfaces and enter the French Open, which is one of the toughest tournaments out there, so I just didn’t feel it was the right thing to do.”
With Rafael Nadal producing a stunning clay season, winning a 10th title in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros – in addition to winning Madrid – Federer admitted the Spaniard “cemented himself as maybe the greatest tennis clay-court player of all time and is making his case to be one of the greats of all-time.”
He added: “I’m so impressed by how you can just dominate just one tournament throughout your whole career.”
Federer also feels world No 1 Andy Murray faces a “crucial” second part to the season after suffering from injuries and illness which has blighted his hopes of continuing from where he left off in 2016.
“Andy was extremely tired after getting to world No 1 at the end of last year so there’s maybe a bit of a let down there, then he was injured too, so that didn’t help. I think the second part of the season is going to be really, really crucial. It’s gearing up to be an exciting part of the season”
The Swiss began the year in fairy-tale fashion with victory at the Australian Open before claiming Masters 1000 titles in Indian Wells and Miami and says he is in “confident” mood ahead of another title tilt in Halle.
“I think my game is perfectly suited for the grass but after losing in the first round in Stuttgart maybe I have to reassess my goals and maybe I should be happy if I just get through the first round here in Halle, I’m not sure.
“Honestly, I’ve played so well in Halle I come into it confident. The year has been great and it wasn’t all bad in Stuttgart. Maybe that loss against Tommy was what I needed to fuel myself for what’s to come in Halle and Wimbledon.”
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