Roger Federer: Swiss star admits Belinda Bencic surprise after win in Dubai
On Saturday, Bencic, who has had injury trouble over the last few years, played in her first WTA Premier final since 2016.
The 21-year-old had beaten Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina on route to the final where she would face the second seed Petra Kvitova.
And Bencic kept her composure in the final set tiebreak to beat Kvitova 6-2 3-6 7-6 and win her first title since February 2016.
Through both being Swiss, Federer and Bencic already had a friendly relationship.
But the two have grown even closer through playing together at the Hopman Cup in Australia every year since 2017.
In 2018 and 2019, Federer and Bencic won the event in Perth, Australia and the 20-time Grand Slam winner has used their time to provide his experience to the talented WTA star.
And speaking after he began his campaign in Dubai on Monday, Federer hailed Bencic’s win as “tremendous”.
“Look, I definitely didn’t expect it. I still think, like she also thought, it was sort of work in progress, her whole comeback,” said Federer.
“This is what sports does, they write great stories.
“I’m happy for her, number one, that she’s healthy. I remember she called me in Miami last year and she said, ‘My foot was hurting.’
“My physio took a look and said, ‘It’s not great, I’m sorry to tell you, but you need some more time off.’
“And this is after the wrist issues she had before.
“It was hard for her. She came back for the French (Open), even though she wasn’t ready yet. All that stuff lingers for a long time. I think she’s coming from far behind. She tried things out with her team. Also just in her game, I guess.
“I think it’s nice that things fell into place maybe a little bit earlier than she expected. I thought the way she did it was tremendous, beating four top-10 players in exhilarating matches, to be honest. I think that was wonderful for her.
“I saw her briefly. It was déjà vu. Every day I saw her at the courts, every day I congratulated her, every day she went on to win the next one.
“And then the next day I saw her at lunch, and I quickly saw her after the finals before she left.
“She was so happy. It was a pleasure to see her play a little bit, and also happy that everything is coming together with her father and her fitness coach right now.”