Even before his 14-month hiatus Federer had retirement questions sprinkled into his press conferences.
However, the competitive spirit still courses through his veins and the 39-year-old feels such a break can prolong his playing days.
“I’ve played almost 1,500 matches… breaks are always welcome. I do believe what you miss through injuries, you can add to the back end of your career,” added Federer, relishing his return. “I have missed the Tour. I have missed the second family, how I call the Tour.”
The former world No.1 has jetted to Doha to rejoin the tennis family, where he has lifted the title on three occasions (2005-6, 2011). Courtesy of a bye, the 39-year-old is presented with a tough second round encounter with either Brit Dan Evans or Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
For Federer, it’s a cautious return.
“However this tournament will play out, I will be happy leaving the court because I will have played a tournament again.
"Expectations are really low, but I hope I can surprise myself and maybe others. I know that people will think that the measuring stick will only be titles, trophies, finals and semi-finals and I am happy that people think of me that way but, honestly, the expectations are in a completely different place for me.”