Defending champion Roger Federer admits he’s keeping a close eye on Novak Djokovic as the Serbian attempts to emulate the Swiss’ incredible Australian Open 2017comeback.
Federer stunned the tennis world with his march to last year’s title in his first official tournament back after six months out of the game recovering from a career-threatening knee injury.
Now, just like Federer in 2016, Djokovic shut down his season after Wimbledon last year and returned at the Open uncertain about his chances.
The 14th seed made an impressive return, sweeping past American Donald Young for the loss of only seven games despite dealing with a new serving motion to help combat his long-standing elbow injury.
Federer says such comebacks aren’t as easy as he and his great rival make it look.
“If you put Rafa (Nadal), myself and Novak together, I think because we have margin maybe against a lot of the players normally, when we do come back, we can find that level maybe,” Federer said ahead of his second-round clash on Thursday with Jan-Lennard Struff.
“Even though we’re not feeling good, we can still find a way and eventually play good again, whereas others would struggle early on and it becomes more difficult.
“Then, because of our results, we just back ourselves. Mentally and physically we’re going to be there. The question is, is our game good enough?
“I think that’s why it’s very interesting to follow the comebacks of the great players that have been injured: Stan (Wawrinka), Novak of course this week.”
Djokovic faces Gael Monfils in the second round on Thursday and Federer suspects the classy Frenchman will pose a huge threat to the six-time champion.
“This is a big test to play Gael in the second round,” said Federer, who could face Djokovic in a semifinal showstopper.
“I think it’s going to be very interesting. I didn’t see much of Novak (on Tuesday) but the result shows he was breezing.
“But this one’s clearly a big test against Gael. Follow that one closely.”
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