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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday November 30, 2020

Roger Federer has not played a competitive match in about eleven months now, but even if age is working against the Swiss, who will turn 40 in 2021, experience continues to work in his favor.

Tennis Express

"In terms of physicality, I think just listening to the body, the signs, and managing a good schedule,” Federer tells Courts Magazine of the keys to success in a recent podcast interview.

Federer underwent two knee surgeries in 2020, the first in February and the last in June, and is now hoping to push back in 2021. He’s confident in his ability to use the ample time on his hands to put his best foot forward.

Federer told Courts that he’s well aware of how critical an extended training block can be, not for himself, but for any player.

"I think they're very crucial for a player and how you can prepare because when you are able to take six to eight weeks and really take a proper break, maybe of ten days to two weeks and then train really hard physically and then eventually also add tennis to that, you can really improve your potential,” he said.

Federer reveals some wise advice for younger players as he speaks. The Swiss says it’s worth it to take the time to make improvements to technical aspects of one’s game, rather than just chasing tournaments and ranking points all season long.

“The problem is if you are only playing tournaments all the time and not taking enough time to practice,” he said. “You actually won't really improve. You will become a better match player, you became match tough and all that, but actually your shots or your game, it's not really evolving.”

Federer proved the value of an extended period away from the match court in 2016, when he ended his season after a loss to Milos Raonic at Wimbledon. He returned in 2017 after a six-month hiatus and won three of the next five Grand Slam titles on offer.

“That's why I am a big believer in training blocks, because just imagine if you now went on to the court and just worked six months on your serve and volley game,” he said. “You would be such a better player, when you did that, but nobody dares to do it because you have ranking points, your ranking might drop, you want to play a tournament, it might be a financial thing too, who knows, but I think it's really important to recognize that it's crucial to become the best player you can become is that you utilize those training blocks the right way.”

In addition to the tactical improvements a player can make during an extended training block, there is also the fact that a player can gain a new lease on life and recover a hunger that had been lost over the course of several seasons with too much match play and not enough time away from the sport.

"Very often you see when somebody does return from injury, how hungry and fresh and rejuvenated they are, you see it very often, so it shows taking breaks sometimes is a good thing,” he said.

Federer is already up and running with his training block ahead of this year's Australian Open. In an interview in early November his coach Ivan Ljubicic said that things were moving along as planned.

"He is in the recovery phase, I would say that things are going in the best way," he told OK Tennis. "He trains more and more and better, I'm curious to see how much we can push in the coming months. The program we had in mind to date has been fully respected."

When asked about specifics Ljubicic could only point to Federer being ready to make a strong effort at the Australian Open. With complications arising due to the pandemic, the Swiss may have two extra weeks to prepare for the "Happy Slam."

"Talking about programs is now premature," Ljubicic said. "I certainly cannot say today what we will do in April. I know we want to leave as soon as possible, play a great Australian Open and then evaluate step by step. It will be important to go step by step and observe rest periods. As we have always done." 


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