Federer 'intrigued and happy' to make clay return

MADRID • Roger Federer has revealed the decision to return to clay courts was "the right one" as he prepares for the Madrid Open this week, three years after his last match on the surface.

The Swiss, who moved up a place to world No. 3 yesterday after Alexander Zverev's quarter-final defeat at the Munich Open, has skipped the clay-court season since last appearing in Rome in May 2016.

However, Federer, who received a bye to the second round, told reporters he was "happy I'm here".

The 37-year-old said: "I'm happy that the decision I took last December when I started feeling like I definitely want to play on the clay.

"I haven't looked back yet during the clay-court build-up, thinking, 'Ah, maybe I shouldn't have'. I'm happy I am on the surface.

"It takes some time getting used to how to construct the points a little bit more because there is more baseline (play), a possibility to play with more angles and height. It's been interesting and fun."

Federer, who won his 101st singles title in Miami in March, is the fourth seed behind world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Zverev.

 

However, the former world No. 1 insisted when he steps out on court at the Caja Magica that there would be no pressure on his shoulders.

He added: "It will be interesting to see how this tournament goes. I do not have high expectations in some ways. But, at the same time, I also know that things are possible. Madrid always plays fast with the altitude here. I'm intrigued to find out."

The 20-time Grand Slam winner will open his campaign against the winner of yesterday's (this morning, Singapore time) match between France's Richard Gasquet or Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2019, with the headline 'Federer 'intrigued and happy' to make clay return'. Print Edition | Subscribe