405 days later, Federer returns with his brush

In the direction of 40 years – he will turn them on August 8 – after a double arthroscopy in his right knee and after 405 days without officially stepping on a track, Roger Federer showed why he is Federer. As if he had used the time machine, the champion of 20 grand returned with a victory against the British Daniel Evans in Doha (7-6 (8), 3-6 and 7-5, in 2h 24m) and made good the phrase that he slipped two days ago, before resuming his march after more than a year in the reserve as a result of the joint injury he suffered in the semifinals of the penultimate edition of the Australian Open: “For me, tennis has always been like riding a bicycle ”. Given what has been seen, the Swiss has not forgotten to rally.

Late at night in Doha and before the 1,000 privileged who could witness it from the stands, Federer burst in with a smile and approached Evans with the usual decision, with whom he had curiously shared the two weeks of previous training. What in other circumstances would have been a rather routine duel for him, was translated into an arduous physical exercise of coming and going because the Englishman, 28th in the world, does not lack blows and required him to combine the elegance of the traditional tuxedo with the jumpsuit. masonry blue. On his return, Federer had to roll up his sleeves and row. And so he did, until unraveling and signing his 1,243 victory in the elite.

At the beginning of the year, the Basel man planned to return in the same scenario that had fired him, Melbourne, but the response of his knee was not the desired one and his body, according to his physical trainer, Pierre Paganini, needed a final phase of work to get rid of rust and offer guarantees in a real fire situation. The Swiss has a long way to go to recover that fascinating version that endures despite the fact that he reaches quarantine, but before Evans he left rather optimistic outlines and showed that his virtues are still intact: the right and the reverse are what they were, and the service is hot as always. Except for a couple of bitten balls, nothing squeaked. And that, after 13 months, says it all in a sport as mechanical as tennis.

“It was a good game, 2h 24m. In the end I was a bit tired and Dan had more energy, but I am incredibly happy with my game. Going back to my age is not an easy thing, it is a huge challenge, but it was worth it just to play a game like today [por este miércoles]”, He valued, knowing that the present does not grant truce and that today he will collide with another player who usually poses pick and shovel duels, Nikoloz Basilashvili. Federer also says that his story “is not over yet” and that the withdrawal “has not been on the table at any time”, and that the great objective of this year for him will be the same as always: Wimbledon, although without losing sight the Tokyo Games.

“I am happy with how I have managed the difficult moments,” he said at the telematic press conference. “The nerves were there, but I played how I wanted to play, and that’s good. The important thing was not to lose in two or three sets, or to win in two or three, because any result was going to give me many answers. I am very satisfied. They are more than 400 days out, and that is a long time … I have to adjust things, but it is normal ”, he continued. “I’m from the old school, so everything is quite simple: I took an ice bath after the game and the truth is that it is not too pleasant, I will not do it again,” he settled with his usual sense of humor.

In any case, Federer, 25 seasons as a professional and with 103 titles in his backpack, is back and the fans are enjoying his tricks again. Brush in hand returned, with technical details unimaginable for the rest of the mortals. And sealed in his own way: backhand parallel to the angle. The wick is running out, but Federer will always be Federer.

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