Federer, 37, was asked if he saw any similarities between himself and Tiger Woods, who at 42, finished second at last week’s PGA Championships. “I don’t think I can relate [to what he’s gone through] because he’s had multiple surgeries on different parts of his body,” Federer said. “But It was nice to see him do well again for the first time in a while and hopefully that will transform into some victories now. It was exciting from what I heard and the little bit I watched.”
Now in his 20th year on tour and about to play his 1,416th tour-level match, Federer said that smart scheduling was critical to his longevity in the sport. And he said his decision to take the necessary time away from the game following knee surgery in February 2016 was now paying dividends.
“Because of the knee problem and the surgery I had and the six months I took, it’s made it much easier,” Federer said. “It puts everything in perspective and you’re happier to take a week off and stay on tour and be healthy rather than be playing, playing, playing and something pops and you are out for the count, maybe forever. It is hard emotionally because you wish you could play everything, but in return I get a more relaxed schedule, I can plan much better with my family, which is super important to me and I can also plan my practices with my coaches and everybody’s rhythm is known. If I want to play more I can always do that. If I want to play less, I can do that too. So I feel I have passed the hectic part of my life. Because of the rhythm I feel everything is quite comfortable.”
Federer was also asked about his adventure in the Swiss Alps with celebrity survivalist Bear Grylls. The pair teamed up in early 2017 but the episode of the TV show only recently aired on NBC in the United States.
“I’d met Bear many times before I did the show. I know his mum is a huge fan of mine. He said to let him know if I ever wanted to do the show and I asked if we could do it in Switzerland so I could show Switzerland to the world. I grew up hiking and I love going for hikes with my children and this whole survival stuff. I feel very connected to [nature] with the mountains, the lakes, the forests, everything we have. The only problem is that it was snowy and cold, and I don’t like cold.
“After the  Australian Open we made a schedule that worked and I had a great time. I didn’t expect [eating] the fish eye and going down the big [ice] cliff. It was great fun, I really enjoyed it.”
Federer, 29-4 on the year with three titles at the Australian Open, Rotterdam (where he became the oldest World No. 1 in history) and Stuttgart, is playing his first match since a 13-11 fifth-set loss to Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. The seven-time Cincinnati champion, who is chasing his 99th career title, will open his campaign with a first-time meeting Tuesday night (not before 7pm ET) against World No. 47 German Peter Gojowczyk.
The father of four has not played a hard-court match since a surprise opening-round loss to Australian 22-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open presented by Itau in March. But Federer says that he is confident of a strong showing in Cincinnati.
“I’ve been practising on hard courts, so it’s not like I haven’t played on hard courts for forever. I feel I am really ready to go. Anxious actually. Cincy has been a great tournament for me in the past. It’s great to be back and hopefully I can play a good tournament.”