Three more wins at the World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam and Roger Federer will return to where he was six years ago: at the top of the men’s tennis pack. Since the Australian Open win last year, the Swiss genius has maximised his magnificent resurgence to add three more Slams – including his successful title defence in Melbourne this year – to his world record tally.
The prospect of returning to world No 1 excites Federer, he’s happy about his revival and looks forward to more tennis. But as he told to The Guardian in an interview, his health and his family’s well-being take precedence over his tennis success.
Here are the topics Federer discussed in the interview:
Family over tennis
“Ever since my kids were born it has been that way. My wife needs to be happy. My kids need to be happy. Without that this doesn’t matter.”
Private life in the age of social media
“I’ve got a very busy and exciting life. I get to meet a lot of people. When I don’t want to meet people, don’t want to play tournaments, I can choose to do that. Since 10 years now there are mobile phones to take videos and pictures. You do feel like maybe your privacy has been taken away even more. But it’s OK. I don’t feel like it’s too much and that I can’t take it. You think twice when you go out sometimes. You think, am I in the mood for maybe it to happen, or am I just happy to stay home anyway? I try to just have a normal life, go for a walk, see my friends...”
The much-needed break
“You can always play more if you want to. You can always play less if you want to. I just hope people don’t think that what I’m doing at 36 they can start doing at 25. I played full schedule from ’98 or ’99, really, to 2016. Until I was injured. I was 34 at the time. Did I plan last year to play a light schedule? No. Did I plan to skip the clay-court season? No. Did I plan to win all these tournaments? No. It all happened organically.
“I played [three] majors [in 2017]. I won two of them. One of them [Australia] almost killed me by playing three five-setters. I was injured afterwards. Then I also couldn’t play. My philosophy is I play when I’m ready. I’m not just going to play tournaments to see how I’m feeling. What I did last year – and what Rafa [Nadal] is doing also – is maybe a bit of a lighter schedule, and it shows to others by working or practising a bit more – or taking time – you can improve your potential and you become a different or better player.
“Say I go out for six months and I only work on my serve-and-volley game. I feel like I’d be a different player six months later but everybody’s scared to do it because they’re, like, what about my ranking, what about this, what about that? Sponsors maybe, or prize money, I’m not going to make money. It’s hard to say. I just won’t do it, right?
The 2020 Olympics
“It’s not like with Rio [in 2016], where it was really something I set myself as a goal. If I’m still playing, great. But I’m not saying I have to play one more [Olympics] before I retire. If it happens, then it makes sense for me to go play, but it’s too far away. I don’t know what happens then. We’ll see if it works and makes sense. I haven’t put it on the table.”
French Open this year
“I guess by being here now, and maybe being in Dubai, it’s just going to have to be lighter if I play the clay-court season. Or not at all. So I just have to get into this situation a little bit, because the priority is for me to try to defend my sunshine double in Indian Wells and Miami. So, then we’ll see what happens with the clay, what happens next.”