Kei Nishikori recently spoke about Roger Federer's comeback to the tour from a year-long layoff. During the press conference after his win over Reilly Opelka in the first round of the Dubai Open, Nishikori was eloquent in his praise of Federer, claiming that the Swiss maestro was "a monster" but in a good way.
The Japanese, who himself made a comeback from a right elbow surgery last year, believes that Roger Federer played at a pretty good level in Doha considering it was his first tournament since the 2020 Australian Open.
"He is a monster in a good way," Kei Nishikori said. "He played two solid matches, that was unexpected. He played a pretty good game. Of course, having been one year off he was a little bit off, you know. But he still played great. Not everybody could do that."
Roger Federer's return to action in Doha was cut short in the quarterfinals, where he wasted one match point in a three-set loss to Nikoloz Basilashvili. But the Swiss isn't too bothered by the result, as his main priority right now is to get used to playing matches again.
"I'm sure Roger Federer can come back winning Slams again" - Kei Nishikori
Kei Nishikori also revealed that he would like to play Roger Federer again, before insisting that the Swiss was still capable of challenging for Slam titles.
"Hopefully he can come back strong and hope we can play couple matches, you know, on the courts," the Japanese said. "I always enjoyed playing against him and I'm sure he can come back winning Slams again."
Making a successful comeback to the top rungs of the game is not child's play, as Kei Nishikori himself pointed out. That said, Roger Federer is no stranger to putting together a fairytale season after a long layoff.
Back in 2017 Federer proved all his critics wrong as he overcame a knee surgery to win the Australian Open and Wimbledon. The Swiss even made a return to the No. 1 position in the ATP rankings a year later, thereby becoming the oldest World No. 1 in the Open era.
Whether Roger Federer will be able to emulate his 2017 comeback is very much up in the air right now. For the moment, just ensuring he can make a run at Wimbledon, which is to be played later in the season, would be a big stepping stone for the 39-year-old.