Roger Federer is returning to the ATP Tour after a six-week absence with back problems, and as has been his habit in recent years, he’ll do so without a full-time coach.
Federer, a 13-time Grand Slam champion, hasn’t played on tour since his five-set loss to top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final Feb. 1.
He had been scheduled to play in a tournament in Dubai and in the opening round of Davis Cup before arriving in California for the BNP Paribas Open. Instead, he took that time off to recover and actually tested a possible collaboration with Daren Cahill (former Hewitt and Agassi coach).
“After I decided not to play those two events I thought it would be a good time for a test,” said Federer. Cahill came over to Dubai and we worked a bit and we decided we’re not going to do it, so we’re moving on. It was a test. We said let’s see how it goes first and go back and think about it. He thought it was tough for him to do the traveling with his kids and everything. It never really got to the point where I had to think too far and make a decision on my own. I never really had to go there. He took the decision for me,” he said.
Federer, who began having serious back problems late last year but kept playing, did have to make a decision on whether to play Dubai and the Davis Cup first round against the U.S.
Now recently Federer has been accused of not being that fair play anymore, many thinking that he couldn’t stand that he’s been dethroned by Nadal. Federer now said: “Yes, I like Rafa, we get along well,” Federer says. “He is having the time of his life right now. I had a great run, but for the moment, he is the best in the world.”
When Nadal beat him in the Australian final, the Spaniard took his head-to-head record with Federer to an unthinkable 13-6 overall and five straight. Federer says of that match: “The next day, I was motivated to play him again.”
Federer’s next shot at a major will be on the clay at Roland Garros in Paris, where Nadal has won the last four and where Federer is perceived to be the least effective. Federer addresses that with humility and humor.
“I don’t have a problem on clay,” he says. “I have a Rafa problem on clay.”
The Australian is six weeks in the past, the French ten weeks in the future. So let’s just focus on the present moment and this week’s Indian Wells tournament where the two, if everything goes well, might meet again.