Tomorrow will be four years since Federer’s last match in Madrid. Four years since that unforgettable second-round clash in which a youthful Kyrgios beat the Swiss in the Manolo Santana Stadium after three breath-taking tiebreaks. Since then, Roger has not set foot in the Caja Mágica. Therefore, Federer’s participation in this year’s Mutua Madrid Open has generated huge expectations. Today, at the pre-tournament media day, the ex-world number 1 spoke to the press about the world of tennis before his opener on Tuesday.
Thoughts on his decision: “I’m happy that the decision I took last December, when I started feeling like I definitely wanted to play on clay, that it was the right decision. I haven’t looked back at the clay-court build-up yet, or everything that I have been doing. I’m happy I’m here and I’m happy I’m on the surface”.
His return to clay: “It’s been good. It’s been fun. I was lucky we had good weather when I started. So that helped because I remember three or four years ago, when I was practicing it was snowing and that didn’t inspire me very much to go and practice on clay, or go into an indoor bubble, so this year was easy. I enjoyed myself a lot”.
His expectations at the Mutua Madrid Open: “It’ll be interesting to see how the tournament goes. I don’t have high expectations in some ways, but at the same time I also know things are possible. I mean Madrid always plays fast with the altitude here, so I’m intrigued to find out myself. But it’s been good so far”.
His preparations with Dan Evans: “When you’re looking for a player to train with, he doesn’t necessarily need to be a specialist on the surface you’re going to play on. You are just looking also at some players that are available. I think we were looking in that very moment at players that were not in a tournament or who had just lost at a tournament. And we reached out to him and he was ready to come. It’s also interesting sometimes to play with a one-handed backhand player who has got a slice. Dan is a nice guy and he was flexible and he could react very quickly. So, it was good. We had two tough days, it was so windy. It was unbelievable. I’ve never had practices in winds. Anyway, it was good fun and I was happy he came”.
Adapting to clay: “It takes some time getting used to how to construct the points a little more. Because there is more baseline, there is a possibility to play with more angles and height. Off a hard ball you can roll it and spin it and go loopy, whereas on a faster court you almost have to hit against it. It is hard to take pace off the ball. So, from that standpoint, it’s been interesting and fun, but not so challenging”.
David Ferrer’s retirement: “I’m a big admirer of his work ethic and personality and of course, also his success. The guy has been so solid for the last 20 years. He’s always been the same guy and I have always appreciated that. We’ve always had a lot of respect for one another and we’ve had some good matches over the years. They all went my way, but I don’t see the head-to-head that way. I see a guy who’s at my level and I look to him eye-to-eye. So I’m happy for him that he was able to take the decision and he seemed genuinely happy because he is playing well at the end of his career and he can go out on his terms. He’s going to feel the love from the people here in Madrid, as was the case in Barcelona. It is going to be great. He has all the respect from my side. He doesn’t need to prove himself anymore. And I just wish him all the very best for what is to come with his family and his future”.