Fed­erer launches in­jury come­back at Hop­man Cup

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

PERTH:

Roger Fed­erer makes his long-awaited re­turn to ten­nis af­ter six months out with a knee in­jury in to­day’s mixed teams Hop­man Cup in Perth ahead of next month’s Aus­tralian Open.

The Swiss 17-time Grand Slam cham­pion has not played a match since July when he tum­bled dur­ing the fi­nal set of a loss to Mi­los Raonic in the semi-fi­nals at Wim­ble­don.

Fed­erer, 35, had surgery for the first time in his ca­reer on his left knee in Fe­bru­ary and af­ter the Wim­ble­don set-back he did not fin­ish the sea­son, miss­ing out on the US Open and Rio Olympics.

Dur­ing his time out of the game Andy Mur­ray and No­vak Djokovic fought out the world No.1 rank­ing and his Swiss com­pa­triot Stan Wawrinka won the US Open.

Fed­erer makes his re­turn with his world rank­ing down to 16, his low­est since 2001. The Swiss leg­end, who will part­ner with Belinda Ben­cic, said he was look­ing to ease his way back be­fore the start of the Aus­tralian Open in Mel­bourne on Jan­uary 16.

“I’m re­ally pos­i­tive about how I’m feel­ing right now, and prac­tice is go­ing well,” said Fed­erer, who was watched by 5,000 fans at a prac­tice ses­sion in Perth on Thurs­day.

“Ex­pec­ta­tions are low be­cause I don’t have the matches yet and it’s go­ing to be best-of-five from the get-go at the Aus­tralian Open.

“I’m happy I’ve got the Hop­man Cup and I’ve got my three matches there to ease my way in.”

Nick Kyr­gios also makes his re­turn in the Hop­man Cup, but from a play­ing ban, af­ter his spec­tac­u­lar melt­down at the Shang­hai Mas­ters in Oc­to­ber re­sulted in an ini­tial eight-week sus­pen­sion.

A con­di­tion of the ATP re­duc­ing the ban to three weeks meant the con­tro­ver­sial 21-year-old had to con­sult a sports psy­chol­o­gist to prepare him for the new sea­son.

Kyr­gios, who will part­ner with Daria Gavrilova in the Aus­tralian team, said he was now fo­cus­ing on bet­ter man­ag­ing his sched­ule and time.

“The added me­dia in­ter­est is never easy and it’s some­thing that I haven’t fully got my head around or got used to, but what can I do?” Kyr­gios said.

“As far as how I’ll deal with it, I’ll just keep my head down and go about my busi­ness as I have done the past few Aussie sum­mers.”

Dual Wim­ble­don cham­pion Pe­tra Kvi­tova had pulled out of the Hop­man Cup be­fore she was knifed by a home in­truder this month and re­quired surgery on her rac­quet hand.

Kvi­tova will be out for six months and has been re­placed in Perth by three-time dou­bles Grand Slam cham­pion Lucie Hradecka, who part­ners with Adam Pavlasek in the Czech team.

Alexan­der Zverev, who teams up with An­drea Petkovic for Ger­many, says he is look­ing for­ward to his matches against Fed­erer and French­man Richard Gas­quet in his pool.

“It’s been a great event to start the year off. It gives you a big ad­van­tage play­ing a few matches here,” said Zverev, whose rank­ing has soared from 83 at the start of the year to a current 24. — AFP

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