Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button Follow Me on Pinterest
NewsBlogsLive ScoresTV ListingsTournamentsVideosInstructionRankingsPlayersPodcastsMagazine

Popular This Week

Net Notes - A Tennis Now Blog

Net Posts

Industry Insider - A Tennis Now Blog

Industry Insider

Second Serve - A Tennis Now Blog

Second Serve


Federer: Novak Needs Time

INDIAN WELLS—Novak Djokovic's comeback match left the former world No. 1 feeling like a Tour rookie.

Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel spoiled Djokovic's return to tournament tennis stunning the five-time champion at the BNP Paribas Open.

More: Daniel Stuns Djokovic

It was Djokovic's first match since undergoing an elbow procedure about six weeks ago and left him feeling like a newcomer.

“For me it felt like first match I ever played on the tour,” said Djokovic after his first match since the Australian Open in January. “Very weird. I mean, I just completely lost rhythm, everything.”

Federer, who bounced back from knee surgery to capture the 2017 Australian Open, said Djokovic's reaction isn't surprising because regaining rhythm takes time after an extended break.

"When you do come back, it's like, oh, those break points; oh, those deuce points; those 30-All points; 15-30s; first point of the game," Federer said. "Where normally, you know, when you've played a lot of matches, you just rock up, you hit a good serve, play a good point, 15-Love, you just move along with the score. But you put extra effort to manage all that's happening in your head."

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said mental and physical fatigue is common after an absence.

"I feel like when you do come back from injury or when you haven't played in a long time, it just takes extra effort," Federer said. "I think that's probably also what he's also feeling. And maybe was tired in the end a bit because, yeah, the focus you need to have is greater."

The 10th-seeded Djokovic said he wasn't feeling pain in his elbow after today's loss. Federer said fitness is a fundamental foundation for a successful comeback.

"I think as long as you're 100 percent physically, you know, that helps," Federer said. "I'm not sure if Novak is 100 percent yet. Only he knows. If he's got still some rust there, that's going to rock your boat as well a little bit, you know, to be honest."

Ultimately, time and more match play are essential for getting back on track after a break, Federer said.

"So it doesn't take very much to get that feeling back, but in the beginning it's very odd when you haven't played matches," Federer said. "And you can try as hard as you want in practice to pretend like it's you're down match point every single point you play. It just doesn't feel the same, you know, playing in front of a crowd, saving breakpoints on the stretch, hitting winners onto the line. That comes over playing a good schedule with the right amount of practice, vacation, matches, everything.

"That's why after injury or something like that, you just need a bit of time. And I think Novak needs that, too, even though I wouldn't be surprised if he would have won here or Miami or anything going forward, because he's too good of a player not to do something like that."

“Look, still such early stages for Novak coming back and the first one after surgery. He's only going to get better from here. He knows that. We all know that. But it was nice to see him playing again. I see where he's coming from. I think every player feels that way. It's maybe just strange to hear that from such a champion, you know, that he also feels that way.”