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Roger Federer has opened up about retirement on the eve of his long-awaited return to the ATP tour.
The 39-year-old, who has needed two operations to correct a long-standing knee issue, returns to action in Qatar this week - his first tournament since the 2020 Australian Open.
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In a positive mood as he addressed a press conference, the 20-time grand slam champion reckons retirement is not on the cards and he's adamant that one of sport's great stories is not completed yet.
"I just feel like the story is not over," Federer said on Sunday as he looked forward to his comeback tournament at the Qatar Open.
The Swiss legend accepted that he is still a work in progress but added that he hoped to be "100 per cent" by the time Wimbledon came around.
"I'm very happy to be back playing a tournament again. It's been a long time. I never thought it would take this long," Federer said.
Asked whether he'd considered his future while being sidelined, he added: "Retirement was never really on the cards.
"I think it's more of a conversation if the knee keeps bothering me for months and months - then let's look at it.
"This is not the time to think about that...let's say in the fall of this year.
"I just feel like the story is not over. It's not like there's one particular reason that I wanted to keep playing tennis other than I enjoyed playing tennis, I enjoy being on the road.
"I'm still a work in progress but probably one of the other reasons for coming back is I want to get that high again of playing against the biggest players and in the biggest tournaments and hopefully winning them again."
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Federer, who's a three-time champion in Doha but has not competed there since 2012, will face either his occasional practice partner, British No.1 Dan Evans, or Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in his first match.
"Obviously at this moment I feel like it's just about let's see how matches go, let's see how training goes with all the top guys and professional players, not just sparring partners.
"I hope by Wimbledon, I'm going to be 100 per cent and that's when the season starts for me.
"Everything until then it's just 'let's see how it goes' - I might surprise myself but then actually I've already done in practice the last few weeks, I was surprised at actually how well it did go.
"But, like we know, matches are a different animal."
Federer will drop out of the top five in the world rankings for the first time in five years on Monday.
Roger Federer never considered retirement despite 14-month absence from tennis https://t.co/dsP1sCubEF
— Andrew (@andrewcdf) March 7, 2021
Woohoo. Federer back.
BBC News - Roger Federer never considered retirement despite 14-month absence from tennishttps://t.co/gO2TZpQdRF
— Lizzie Rynne 💙 (@_MMaritima) March 7, 2021
His mindset Chris is extraordinary
At this stage in his life and career he’s done it all the records are not the issue his health is !
He is such an inspiration for all players and respects everyone
We are so lucky to still have him out there for as long as he is able.
— Arabella Prideaux (@ArabellaPridea1) March 7, 2021
Nice to hear that i didn't see him in US OPEN..AO..etc he needs to compete the next event
— Nasser the king Haji (@kanedid92) March 7, 2021
They thought he was done... WE ARE COMING BACK. MY 🐐 pic.twitter.com/95fsI71gS4
— . (@grimptinho) March 7, 2021
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