Being the teenage phenomenon
While the injuries and the surgery were difficult to deal with, looking back, the break may have done her some good. From being the teenage phenomenon who was expected to do well, she disappeared from view for a while.
When she was able to get back to work, all the outside pressures had gone (the general public, even the tennis obsessives, can forget very quickly and five months away from the game is an eternity in tennis). At the same time, she had found a way to lessen the personal pressure she put on herself.
“It was very tough moments when your body isn't playing along,” Bencic said. “But of course then you see all the other athletes, and actually it's very normal. You know, so many athletes, it's just part of our life to have some injury, to have some setbacks. Tell me any top-10 player that didn't have a surgery yet. Definitely it happened a little bit earlier for me.
“But it changed my perspective. I'm so happy to be on the court again. I'm actually enjoying I'm healthy, and I'm not putting the pressure on myself. I know how frustrating it was when I wasn't able to play at all.”
Federer double help
But even her comeback was not without its problems. Just as she thought she picking up momentum last year, she developed the beginnings of a stress fracture in her foot and was forced to miss another couple of months. She did not play from Indian Wells to Roland Garros – and in that time she turned to Federer for help.
With a lifetime of experience to draw upon, Federer was able to provide help both practical and theoretical. He helped find the right medics to deal with her foot injury and then gave his views on how she should structure her team. And then when they played at the Hopman Cup, he was able to see from close quarters how she worked.
“I feel like she was extremely close, I thought, this year in Perth already,” Federer said, “but still a little bit too emotional for my liking. I try to just talk to her a little bit about what I thought she needed to take it to the next level.
“We talked last year in particular a lot about her team, and I just tried to give her sound advice from somebody who's got no need to; there is no benefit for me. It's all about her. I think probably she enjoys talking to somebody who really only cares for her well-being.
From desert to desert
“I'm happy that she was able to turn things around so quickly right after Australia. I thought it was going to take much more time. I'm very impressed by the steps that she's taken by herself and also with her fitness coach and her dad, that it's all working out. I'm just really happy for them.”
And, who knows, maybe there could be another Swiss double on the cards: from the desert of the Middle East to the desert of California. They clearly like the conditions and as double acts go, they don’t get much better than Federer and Bencic.