Federer is set to play his first tournament since the Open Friday in Miami, when he takes on former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who himself is on the comeback trail from wrist surgery.
Federer said that innocuous accident happened as he was running a bath for his twin daughters. As he turned from his right to his left and shifted his weight to his left foot, Federer felt something ‘click’ in his left knee. He continued with a planned family trip to the zoo even though his leg was swollen. Upon returning home to Switzerland he immediately had an MRI, which led to the February 3 surgery.
“I remember I turned, I felt my knee was funny, I turned back. That's when I heard a click,” Federer said. “I did feel that something was strange in my knee. Very simple movement, probably a movement I've done a million times in my life for sure.
“When I got the news that I had to have the operation I saw the pictures and talked to my doctor and knew that it was the only way out of this one. In the hospital, when I was about to go into the operating room, that’s when I got nervous and sad about it all. When I woke up and looked at my knee it was like ‘This doesn’t feel like my leg. I can’t believe I did the operation and I hope it will come back from here.’ That’s when I got scared.
“Then literally one day, two days later I had no more pain. I realised I could already move my leg again. You learn how to walk on crutches and all that, which I'd done once before in 2005 when I tore the ligaments in my foot…. . It's baby steps. Still at the same time you go from crutches to walking to running to jumping to sprinting. It's pretty incredible to see the progress I've been able to make in a short period of time.”
Federer was on crutches for 12 days and only resumed full training nine days ago. Despite missing key events in Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells, Federer said that he savoured the extra time at home.
“It sounds weird, but I kind of enjoyed the process of improving every day. I had a positive mindset. We worked two to three times a day. We were in Switzerland for five straight weeks, which is rare for us to be in one place, especially our home for so long. Enjoyed everything about it… nothing to do other than rehabbing and spending time with the family. It was a really nice process. Never had any setbacks. That was very crucial that I'm here today.”
Federer will take a 15-5 FedEx ATP Head2Head record into his match with del Potro in their first meeting since 2013. Federer won the first six meetings in their rivalry before the Argentine claimed his career-changing US Open final win over the Swiss in 2009.
“I'm excited,” Federer said. “Anxious to find out how it's going to react, is it going to be different day-to-day, how is it going to feel after the match and so forth… I like Juan Martin. We've had good matches over the years, Paris, five sets twice, US Open obviously. It's nice to see him back. I haven't seen him play at all since he's been back, so I'm not quite sure what to expect, even though my coach went to see his match yesterday. At the end I'm going to focus on my own game tomorrow… managing my problems that I've had the last few months. Just also enjoy it out there. We're both in a similar situation. His injury was much, much greater. That's why I'm really pleased for him that he was able to find a way back onto the tour.”