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Federer: Expect Greatness For 2018 Comebacks

LONDON—Roger Federer made a rousing recovery from knee surgery capturing an ATP-best seven tournament titles—including the Australian Open and Wimbledon crowns—this season. 

The 36-year-old Swiss “expects greatness” from fellow Grand Slam champions Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka in their 2018 comebacks from various injuries. 

Watch: Goffin Shocks Federer

While Federer cautions comeback success can be a “slow process,” he believes all three former champions will eventually return to Top 10 form—if they are patient and positive. 

“Coming back is always a challenge for the body,” Federer told the media after his three-set loss to David Goffin at the Nitto ATP Finals. “It's a challenge for the team because you got to be extremely patient yet positive.  Not so easy, you know, in some instances. 

“Yeah, so I expect obviously from the likes who have been extremely high up in the rankings, who have won slams, like Stan, Andy and Novak, of course I expect greatness from them.  When they return at some stage, not maybe from the very beginning.  But I wouldn't be surprised if it worked out for them as well like it worked out for me—and Rafa.”

Federer faced Murray, who was forced out of the US Open due to a chronic hip injury, in a charity exhibition match in Glasgow earlier this month.

The 30-year-old Scot is planning to launch his 2018 campaign in Brisbane, Murray’s coach, Jamie Delgado, said. 

“He's been working very hard in his rehab and his practice," Delgado told Sky Sports. "For sure, that's the goal [to play in Brisbane], and we believe that he'll get back to his best—100 percent.  He's improving all the time which is all you can ask at this stage and obviously he will start to play matches, he'll improve once he starts doing that as well. 

"He played the exhibition last week in Scotland with Federer, that was good. That was the first time that he had played against anyone at that level. His body recovered well after that. Then a few days later we came down here [to the O2 Arena) to practice with [Dominic] Thiem. That was a progression as well. He enjoyed it.”


Good one today :) #nittoatpfinals #mygame #TenSixSeventeen

A post shared by Dominic Thiem (@domithiem) on

Djokovic’s streak of 51 consecutive Grand Slam appearances—the seventh-longest streak overall—ended when he missed the US Open for the first time after pulling the plug on his season due to a nagging elbow injury he’s battled for more than a year and a half.

The 32-year-old Wawrinka, who underwent knee surgery during the summer, and Djokovic are both planning to return to action in December.

The pair are scheduled to join world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, Milos Raonic, Dominic Thiem and Pablo Carreno Busta in the six-man field for the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi set for December 28-30th. 

Federer said if Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Thomas Berdych can all make successful returns from their injuries, the sport could be in for an “epic” 2018 Australian Open.

“I hope also Kei, Thomas and Milos all find their way back on tour and prefer to be in Australia because that would make it quite epic, comeback for all the guys,” Federer said. “Then you mix them together with the new guys from the World Tour Finals here who have just come off a great year, obviously are confident, want to stay in the top 10, want to make the World Tour Finals again.  They are sort of weaving their way in.  Not so fast, guys, we also want to make it.  You have the young guys coming through.

“I think it could be a very cool start to the year, which I'm really looking forward to.”

Photo credit: Davis Cup/ITF