Dubai: Tennis great Roger Federer has admitted to his friend and arch rival Rafael Nadal that he is in no hurry to make a return on Tour.
Two of the greatest tennis exponents of this generation caught up in a live Instagram chat late on Monday in a freeflowing and candid chat during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.
“There is no stress, no rush. If there is anything positive (about being in lockdown) that’s the only thing really. I just want the knee to be good, it doesn’t matter when I return,” Federer told the Spaniard.
“I’ve been hitting a bit against a wall, (doing) rehab with the knee. It’s OK, I had a really good first six weeks, then it was a bit slower, now it’s getting better again, but I have plenty of time,” the Swiss ace said, indicating that he’s not keen on forcing a hurried comeback on the ATP Tour.
Federer underwent knee surgery in the middle of February just when he was scheduled to travel to Dubai for the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open. The event lost a bit of its appeal, but eight-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic did well to win a fifth crown in Dubai on the leap day of the year. That incidentally turned out to be the final competition on the ATP Tour before being shut at least till the middle of July.
Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II and Nadal’s favourite Grand Slam at Roland Garros has been pushed back for a September 20 start. “I am not playing tennis, I do not have a court at home and I miss it a little,” Nadal admitted to Federer.
“I am sticking to my physical routines. From the gym of my academy, they were able to bring me some machines when lockdown began - so I try to work a little in the morning, a little in the afternoon. It is very important to have both the head and the body focused and it is what I am trying to do at all times,” he added.
The Spanish government has extended the country’s shutdown at least till May 9, with the entire population confined to their homes except a small working number. “It’s true I don’t understand very well because we cannot play tennis when many people are going to work and even more so in our sport, where we keep at a large and safe distance and we play on opposite sides of the court,” World No.2 Nadal observed during his chat.
His Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar currently has 82 kids along with coaches and other staff. “They are all taking care of the kids and everything is fine,” Nadal assured.
“I understand that we are in a very critical situation, that the government is dealing with something unprecedented and I also understand that the last thing they think of is who can train and who cannot train. I understand the situation and obviously there are many things that are not logical - but you have to accept the rules,” he shrugged.
Federer, meanwhile, admitted he missed playing tennis but then reached out to the frontline staff out there. “These are tough moments out there and it makes one uncomfortable, but the reality is that all of us are in this situation and together can be stronger,” he noted.