Roger Federer

PARIS: Roger Federer said Friday it had "been a long hard road" but he was "pumped up" to return to tennis next week, having been sidelined for over a year to recover from two knee surgeries. The 39-year-old hasn't played a match since a semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January 2020. However, the 20-time Grand Slam title winner will be back in action at the Qatar Open in Doha next week.

"I'd like to thank all the people involved who made this possible," the Swiss star said in a video message as he prepared to fly to the Gulf. "It's been a long and hard road, I'm not at the finish line yet but I feel I am in a good place. I've been practicing very well and feel just really pumped up. I am in a good place and progressing really well." Federer, who will slip out of the top five next week, will have an extra motivation on his return.

Tomorrow will see Djokovic surpass Federer's record of 310 weeks in the world number one ranking. After Doha, Federer could play again in neighboring Dubai but he will not travel to the United States for the Miami Masters. Federer has also said he intends to play the European clay court swing this year ahead of Roland Garros which he won in 2009. - AFP