World no. 3, Roger Federer kicks off a clay-court comeback after defeating Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-3 in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open 2019. It took only 52 minutes for the Swiss maestro to defeat the Frenchman, not showing any lack of practice in his first clay court match since May 2016.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer took a decision to return to clay, last December, but he only started to practice on the surface, last month. He trained at home in Switzerland to get used to the higher altitude in Madrid, having an elevation of 650 meters.

Roger Federer Preparation for Clay

In a press conference after his second round win, Roger Federer talked about his knee and his preparations to improve his fitness before coming to the clay. Federer was asked about his work with Pierre Paganini in order to prevent his knee to be swollen again.

“Well this was not about the knee, this was more about preparing for extended rallies which I anyway wanted to work on, you know because of the problems I had at the US Open with the heat. I just think a lot of this led to that problem at the US Open,” replied Federer.

Roger Federer

Then 20-time grand slam champion added, “I had a stiff back I guess from a sort of post-Wimbledon until in that preseason as well a little bit because I have been on the hard and grass court for so long. Rallies were always on the shorter side I’d say especially Cincinnati anyway, and it was mild and I just had the desire to work again especially in fitness because the matches didn’t allow me to extend the rallies as much, you know to work on playing longer points and that obviously is what you need on clay, maybe. I mean we’ll see, maybe we just win one game in Paris and this was all for nothing.”

Ready for longer Rallies

Roger Federer

Roger Federer confirmed that the knee is not a problem and it’s no longer in his mind. He added, “But you know still I think it helps you for any surface to be really tough when the rallies go long and I feel really strong right now and obviously we worked on that in December already so the knee has been long gone, to be honest, that was all done by mid ’17, I’d say, after I won Wimbledon.”