Fed's 'baby steps'
“This doesn't mean this is my last clay court season, or I had to play one more time before I retired. That was not the thinking,” Federer told the ATP website as he prepared for the start of the Dubai Duty Free Championships this week. “My body was ready, I was ready, my schedule with the family, my schedule with the team was ready to do it again. This is when I opted to say, ‘It will be nice. Instead of taking a big chunk off, I'd rather stay in the rhythm and actually enjoy myself on the clay.’ It's going to be challenging, no doubt about it. I have to take baby steps in the beginning to some extent, but that's OK.”
Federer has not played at all on clay since the Masters 1000 in Rome in 2016 where he lost in the third round to Dominic Thiem in straight sets. Reacquainting himself with life on the red brick dust may take a little time, then, and to sharpen his reflexes, he has entered the Mutua Madrid Open before he heads to Paris.
The Spanish capital sits 667m above sea level and the courts play a bit faster up there which should make Fed’s ‘baby steps’ a little easier. But down at Seine level, he knows he will need to be ready for the long haul. But still he is excited to be coming back to Roland Garros.