KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Roger Federer wasn’t playing tennis when he hurt his knee two months ago. He was playing Dad.
Federer said he was preparing a bath for his twin daughters when he turned and heard a click in his left knee, leading to surgery for the first time in his career Feb. 3.
“It was a very simple movement, probably a movement I’ve done a million times in my life,” Federer said Thursday. “I didn’t think much of it when it did happen.”
Soon his knee was swollen and required arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage. He’s scheduled to return from his layoff Friday against longtime rival Juan Martin del Potro at the Miami Open.
The 34-year-old Swiss has been a model of durability throughout his career. He’s playing Key Biscayne for the 16th time, although he did skip the tournament last year for scheduling reasons.
Federer made a late decision to enter the event this month, surprised and pleased by his speedy recovery. He was on crutches for 12 days and has trained without restrictions for the past nine days.
“Expectations are really low, which is nice for a change – just see where I am,” the 17-time Grand Slam champion said. “I’m just really pleased I’m back. I didn’t expect myself to be back here, to be quite honest, after the surgery.”
Federer, who is seeded third, had a first-round bye. Winners on the men’s side in the second round included American qualifier Tim Smyczek and tour veteran Denis Istomin, who won for the first time this year in eight matches by beating 19-year-old Borna Coric 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.
In women’s play, wild card Heather Watson beat No. 20-seeded Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-0. No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 7 Petra Kvitova also advanced.
Federer’s layoff came during an eventful stretch for his sport, with Maria Sharapova’s career in jeopardy following a failed a doping test, and renewed debate about equal prize money for men and women. Federer offered his thoughts on each subject and said he was “completely surprised” by Sharapova’s suspension.
Federer said he doesn’t believe tennis has a doping problem but would like to see more consistency in testing.
“I’ve been in Dubai now for 10 years there and been tested once,” he said. “That’s not OK for me. I get tested more in Switzerland because the guy from Switzerland lives in my village. He comes and sees me the day after my surgery, and one week later.”
As for equal prize money, Federer said he’s all for it.
“I’m happy that tennis has produced some of the greatest female athletes in the world,” he said. “Equal prize money is a good thing.”
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