Federer stormed through the first set against eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and came within two points of winning the match at 5-4 in the third set. But after undergoing left knee surgery in February to repair a torn meniscus, the Swiss star is simply happy to be playing at a high level again.
“I thought I was going to win the match maybe after the first set. I thought I was going to win the match maybe [at] the beginning of the third. But that doesn't matter really,” he said. “It was a good match. It was nice to play an intense match. I'm happy [with] how the body reacted. So many good things this week. It's all positive for me.
“Number one, it's good to play a tournament after having had surgery. Number two, it was good to play one match. It was good to have a match with a rest, then to play again. Now it was good to play back-to-back, yesterday and today. Then it was good to play 2 hours 10 [minutes] today.”
The brief break from the tour has also rejuvenated Federer and left him as motivated as he’s ever been to put in long hours on the court. Even just after his loss, he was already thinking about his practice schedule.
“The pre-tournament stuff I was able to do, I trained really hard. My fitness coach was here. We practised well on the tennis court, as well. It's been a really good past couple of weeks now for me, so I'm very happy,” said Federer.
“I hope my knee and my body are going to be okay the next couple of days. If I'm good, I might go practise tomorrow as well just to get the body into a rhythm of playing four days straight at a very intense level. If I feel like I need a break, the team tells me to rest, I'll do that tomorrow."
Perhaps the most encouraging sign for Federer is that this is only his first tournament of the clay-court season. Although he’s unsure of his tournament schedule leading into Roland Garros, the World No. 3 expects to be in peak form by the time he arrives in Paris.
“I'm returning a lot better. It's better than other beginnings of the clay-court season,” he said. “I don't know if it's because of the new racquet. I'll have to keep that and my serve will come as I play more matches.”