20-time Major winner Roger Federer will be making his much-awaited return at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, which will be played from 8 to 13 March. The Swiss maestro, who has been out of commission for a year now, will be looking to get his comeback rolling at Doha before he leaves for Dubai.
However, Roger Federer's inactivity and age have led several fans into questioning his competitive level when he returns. In that context, Swiss tennis expert Heinz Gunthardt recently spoke to the German website Tagesanzeigher.ch about Federer's comeback.
The tennis player-turned-coach, who has also worked with Federer in the past, believes the Swiss champion's comeback will be "one of the greatest challenges" ever seen in tennis.
"It’s going to be one of the greatest challenges you've ever seen in tennis, no question about it. A couple of things have to come together. He has to move well, build his confidence, also in his body," Gundhardt said.
After Doha, Roger Federer will participate in the Dubai Dutry Free Tennis Championships, which is scheduled to take place from 14 to 20 March. Gunthardt believes that while Federer lacks match practice, the 39-year-old will be able to make do with his strong skill-set.
The Swiss tennis expert also claimed that Federer's movement will be key in his comeback
"It is possible, but he must certainly serve well," Gunthardt replied when he was asked whether it was realistic of the fans to expect Federer to play at a high level. "It's also clear that he won't be very match-fit, but it's not the main problem. The big question is how good he will be moving."
"Why not?" - Gunthardt on Roger Federer winning a 9th Wimbledon title
During the interview, the Swiss tennis expert was also asked whether Roger Federer could push for the title at Wimbledon this year. Gunthardt replied in the positive, given that Federer has achieved eight triumphs at the All-England Club.
"Absolutely. Why not?" Gunthardt quipped.
While Federer has been out of competitive action, his arch-rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have continued to rake in the victories. The 39-year-old might not be the sole occupant of the head of the table anymore, but Gunthardt believes that the fans should be optimistic about the Swiss' comeback.
"And why shouldn't you as a fan wait optimistically for this comeback? It's also a lot more fun than being pessimistic," Gunthardt said.