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Fans weren’t the only ones with their eyes on Roger Federer’s return this week. Players paid careful attention, too.

The 103-time tour-level champion lost in the quarter-finals of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open on Thursday evening, but his colleagues are happy to have him back on the ATP Tour, win or lose.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is trying to win his third consecutive Open 13 Provence title in Marseille. Although the Greek star is focussed on his pursuit of a three-peat at the ATP 250, he enjoyed seeing Federer back in action this week.

“He played well, although he lost,” Tsitsipas said. “I think for him it’s important to get a few more matches. Eventually I feel like he is going to get back on his feet and find his way, follow through. It just takes a few matches more, but I’m really happy for him that he’s back. It brings not just joy to the tennis community, but to the tennis players, too.”

Tsitsipas was five when Federer reached the top of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time in February 2004. The 22-year-old takes motivation from seeing the Swiss star still competing at 39.

“Roger is also a source of inspiration,” Tsitsipas said. “I think it helps also with many aspects of my game. It’s nice seeing him play so I can kind of compare, although I’ll never be able to reach his level. But I still feel it’s something that I can look up to and admire, which is really nice.”

On the other side of the world, at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open in Santiago, the players paid close attention to Federer’s return.

Holger Rune, the 17-year-old junior World No. 1 who is into the quarter-finals in Santiago, watched the Swiss during his own breakout week.

“I really enjoy watching Roger because he’s so elegant on the court. I love his forehand and his net approach,” Rune said. “Even though my mom said, ‘Don’t watch tennis before your match’, I couldn’t [do that]. It was his first match after 14 months, so I had to watch!”


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