Perhaps in common with British schoolchildren, Roger Federer has announced that he plans to be back in the classroom on March 8.
The 39-year-old Swiss will make his long-awaited return at the Doha Open in Qatar following the two knee surgeries that have kept him out of action since the Australian Open last year.
As the frenetic build-up to this year’s event continued – including an excellent win for Katie Boulter over Coco Gauff – Federer sketched out his plans in an interview with Swiss broadcaster SRF.
Roger Federer is set to make his tennis comeback in March at the ATP tour in Qatar
He will play in the relatively low-key event before focusing on the spring and summer and a serious campaign on the grass courts.
‘I wanted to make my comeback at a smaller tournament so that I wasn’t fully in focus and where the stress is also a little less,’ he said. ‘I want to celebrate great victories again and for that I’m ready to go the long, hard road.
‘After Doha I would like to play another tournament and then I plan to prepare for clay, with a focus later on Halle, Wimbledon and the Olympics.’
Federer chose to sit out Australia this time, with a tournament official letting slip that a major consideration was a reluctance to go through a strict quarantine regime.
The Swiss star has not played since his defeat by Novak Djokovic at the 2020 Australian Open
He says he is ready to ‘go the long hard road’ in the hope of ‘celebrating great victories again’
Britain’s Heather Watson was among those caught up in one of the flights which had a positively-tested passenger, which resulted in her being incarcerated in a hotel room for more than two weeks.
Watson, who is due to play her first match in the Grampians Trophy on Tuesday night, suggested it was not an experience she would wish to repeat. ‘I think not every player realised that would be the case, that we would be in a hard quarantine for two weeks,’ she said.
‘When we did find that out I was sure we would stay for the 14 days and we wouldn’t be let out, because I remember at home when I was younger I used to watch these Australian border control programs on TV and they were always savage. So I knew that we were in there for the 14 days. I accepted that pretty quickly.
‘It was definitely tough. I wouldn’t say there was anything fun or easy about it. I just tried every day to be as positive as I could. I tried to exercise every day, which I did manage to do, bar day number 10, which was a killer for me.
Heather Watson has spoken out about her tough quarantine period in an Australian hotel
‘When I’m sitting in the car even if it’s a bit cold outside I have to have the windows open because I just feel a bit claustrophobic.
‘I just appreciate all the small things, like fresh air, space, things that people don’t usually think of. So the last few days we have been so happy.’
Boulter is due to play US Open champion Naomi Osaka on Wednesday in the third round of a different tournament, the Gippsland Trophy.
On a near deserted outside court she overcame 16-year-old Gauff 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 in what is her first main tour appearance since last February.
Katie Boulter overcame Coco Gauff in the Gippsland Trophy to set up a tie with Naomi Osaka
Gauff was within a game of winning the match in the second set before the frailties on her serve surfaced. Boulter was able to attack her second serve throughout and ran away with the decider when her opponent served three double faults in the final game.
Jo Konta had an easy win and will also play her third round later.
Rafael Nadal chose to sit out the opening match for Spain in the ATP Cup team event with what he described as stiffness in his lower back.
With the possibility of overtaking Federer’s Grand Slam title tally coming up he will be very much focused on making sure everything is right for that.