Roger Federer has cautioned Andy Murray against returning to competitive tennis before the Scot is absolutely convinced he is ready to be in the mix for winning another grand slam title.
The pair may have resumed their on-court rivalry at the Andy Murray Live at Glasgow’s Hydro, but 19-time grand slam champion Federer believes before they do so for real in a competitive environment the 30-year-old from Dunblane must ensure he is over the hip problems that resulted in him stepping away from the game following Wimbledon.
“My best advice is just to get fit again, seriously that’s it,” said Federer, who worked his media duties with the appeal and consummate grace he does a tennis ball. “Take your time, however long it takes. When you come back, you want to be at 100 per cent, otherwise the problem is you feel you just can’t beat the best at the big tournaments, so it’s wise and worthwhile to take the extra week, extra month maybe. I’m sure Andy is going to have a lot of years left, so he shouldn’t hurry, but, as a professional athlete, you always want to come back as quick as possible. You need to have goals but sometimes they need to be postponed. It’s nice to see you back on the court. I’ve missed you man.”
Federer gave the ten-week period covering the clay-court season a miss before returning to win Wimbledon, having started his annus mirabilis with a Australian Open triumph that brought him his first grand slam success in five years. His regard for Murray the man shone through in their joint press conference before last night’s event, and the fact that he agreed to come to Scotland only days before he participates in the ATP World Tour finals in London. Federer’s appearance in this part of the world led to his being presented with the famous photograph of him as a boy adorned in a Scotland football strip...and carrying a rugby ball. The 36-year-old struggled to explain the origins of such a random snap.
“That is me,” he said. “This is a picture in South Africa. You would think ‘why is he in a Scottish rugby shirt, I guess, and not a South African one’? I have no idea why I got it. I was always a Scotland fan... Thank God I got this shirt.”