Roger’s happy return
As he arrived in Perth to represent Switzerland at Mastercard Hopman Cup 2018, Roger Federer couldn’t have been more positive about the season to come.
“It’s totally different this time around,” said the 19-time Grand Slam champion, whose appearance in 2017 followed a rare six-month absence as he recovered from injury.
“I had a great off season. I mean, I did have a good off season too last year but I just wasn’t sure what to expect.
“Now expectations are higher but at the same time I try to remind myself just don ‘t think it’s normal and realistic to aim for the same things I did this year in 2017.
“I’ve got to try and keep it cool. Try my best and see what happens but the preparation’s been good so far. We’ll see how things go.”
While managing expectations, the Swiss champion also can’t dispute the positive impact that the Hopman Cup had on a season that included Australian Open and Wimbledon victories among seven 2017 titles, and a return to world No.2.
“It worked out perfectly this year, (winning) at the Australian Open,” said Federer of starting the new season in Perth. “Of course, that’s a good omen. I hope that winning or losing the Hopman Cup is going to be good for me.”
Federer is similarly hopeful that a strong showing for Switzerland would provide a boost for team-mate Belinda Bencic, who missed five months of 2017 after undergoing wrist surgery.
The pair teamed for the first time at last year’s Hopman Cup, only just missing out on sending Switzerland into the final. “She had a tough year after that so it’s nice to see her back in shape as well,” Federer said.
Three guaranteed matches in the Hopman Cup’s round robin stages are a perfect preparation for Federer, who also thrives in the relaxed setting of Perth with his family in tow.
“Obviously looking ahead to Melbourne, I really hope that Hopman Cup’s going to give me everything I need here,” he said. “I had a wonderful time (in 2017). I can’t wait to see all the fans again because they came out in big numbers and supported me.
There were 6000, in fact, who arrived for Federer’s first practice session at Perth Arena. Fifteen years had passed since his last visit to Perth last year; even so, you can’t help but expect there’ll be more excited supporters this time around.
“It was really, really special,” he recalled with a smile. “I do feel incredible support in this country.”