Saturday, April 02, 2016

Roger Federer keeping low expectations ahead of Monte Carlo comeback

A stomach virus halted Roger Federer's return to tournament tennis in Miami last month. Federer has shown a deep appetite for dirt in Monte Carlo training sessions this week.

Practicing for his comeback in the principality next week, Federer has put his surgically-repaired knee through its paces. Moving fluidly, Federer has shown no signs of hesitation sliding on the red clay or making quick cuts in practice sessions with coach Ivan Ljubicic.

The four-time Monte Carlo finalist will play his first match since an Australian Open semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic. Federer underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus, the first of his career, and told the media in Miami he was pleased with his rapid rehab.

"Couldn't be more happy how rehab has gone. It's baby steps," Federer said in Miami. "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.

"I had a great team around me, had great support. It's nice to be back here, show everybody that it was worthwhile to put in the work."

Before withdrawing from his scheduled return match against Juan Martin del Potro in Miami last month, Federer said he would not be burdened by expectations in his comeback. "Expectations are really low, which is nice for a change. Just see where I am, go out there," Federer said. "Once you're out there, you want to win, it's clear. I'm a competitor. I'm just really pleased I'm back. I didn't expect myself to be back here so soon after surgery."

In his Monte Carlo debut back in 1999, Federer suffered a straight-sets loss to 33rd-ranked American Vince Spadea. Since then, the Swiss has reached the tournament final four times, falling to Rafael Nadal in three straight title matches from 2006 to 2008 and bowing to Olympic gold medal doubles partner Stan Wawrinka in the 2014 championship match.

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