- 06 Mar 2021
Roger Federer’s return to tennis took another step forward on Friday.
Or — to be more specific — it took an actual plane flight.
Federer flew to Doha on Friday after posting a video to inform his fans and social media followers of his travel plans. It is there where the 39-year-old will begin his comeback at next week’s Qatar ExxonMobil Open.
“So he we are, about to take off to fly to Doha,” he said. “It’s been a year since my last travel to any event. You can tell I’m very excited. This may be also a moment where I can thank all the people involved who made this possible. It’s been a long and hard road. I know I’m not at the finish line yet, but it’s good. I feel like I’m in a good place; I’ve been practicing very well. Just really pumped up.
“I hope you guys are going to tune into watch it and I hope I see you again very soon. Take care everybody.”
Federer began the “countdown to Doha” last week and posted another update from practice earlier on Friday.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) February 26, 2021
Last practice before ✈️
Feeling 💪🏼 and ready to go! pic.twitter.com/kkvQTFvWE4
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) March 5, 2021
Federer’s return in Doha will mark his first appearance in more than a year. The 20-time Grand Slam champion last played at the 2020 Australian Open, where he reached the semi-finals in dramatic fashion before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. A back problem plagued Federer in that loss, but it was knee issues that led to his 13-month absences. Multiple surgeries put him out for the remainder of the 2020 season.
The 39-year-old is a three-time champion in Doha, where his lifetime match record is 26-3. He triumphed there in 2005, 2006, and 2011. This will mark his first time participating at the 250-point tournament since 2012.
Federer will be the No 6 player in the world while playing in Doha, as Stefanos Tsitsipas will pass him for the fifth spot by virtue of the Greek’s current semi-final run at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. That won’t have any impact on the seedings in Doha, however. Federer will be second behind world No 4 Dominic Thiem.
Also on the entry list are Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov, Roberto Bautista Agut, David Goffin, Stan Wawrinka, and Borna Coric.
The draw ceremony will take place on Saturday. Main-draw matches begin on Monday, the same day that Federer will be overtaken by Djokovic for the most-ever weeks spent at the top of the ATP rankings.