An interview from today's match.
Q: How did it feel?
KIEFER: There were things which just have to get back into routine. It started with general things, rituals like wrapping the grip the drinks. It was a nice feeling though, to warm up normally, play some football before the match. That was exciting. I noticed the excitement was back. I have to admit that I was a bit more nervous than usually. And I really felt some tears in my eyes when I went on the court because I did not know what to expect. I had hoped to have a good start which I succeeded in quite alright. All in all, it is a good feeling to be back. But I have to say frankly that I am disappointed to have lost.
Q: How difficult was the sliding? Was the court wet?
KIEFER: Yes, but that was the case for both of us. It was nothing to do with that. In practice I felt quite good, but practice and match is not the same thing. I realized that I still need a few matches to get back into it. Sometimes I was late to get to the ball. These are things, which will have to come back with the routine.
Q: Were you surprised that how well things went? Did you expect to have all your strokes?
KIEFER: You never forget these things. Itís just about getting back into the different rhythms. Sometimes I didnít get to the ball early enough. Of course, serve and ground strokes are not yet the way they are supposed to be. In practice it is okay but also in practice I feel that I have phases, in which things donít work. But that is normal after you didnít play for one year. I have to get back into rhythm. I was ready to take on the challenge and had my chances to beat him. So, I am a bit disappointed, I did not make it.
Q: you said before that you just intend to enjoy a bit, to see how things go, but it doesnít really work that way because you want to win?
KIEFER: Yes, the ambition is there. It was fund to play and have the support of the fans. That really gave me a kick. It is difficult to find a balance between enjoying and the ambition top win. There were a lot of close balls. To find the balance not to overpower, these things come back with time.
Q: Apart from the physical aspect, is it easier for you at this age to deal with the injury pause than at a younger stage in your career, with the experience now?
KIEFER: As one could see, you donít forget things. But I can practice as much as I want, in the end things have to work in the matches. That wasnít the case today. I am glad I am still playing doubles with Andrei, so I have more opportunities to play in match situations. But I think that it is easier than a few years ago.
Q: But are there some doubts left that you have to catch up with the field which went ahead?
KIEFER: No, I donít put myself under any pressure at all. I know that I know how to play tennis. Itís just a question of time to get used to the tennis circus, the routine. Of course, I would have preferred to win. Next week I have an exhibition where I will play 3 matches. That will help.
Q: Are you pain-free?
KIEFER: Yes, everything is perfect, no pain. Actually that is the biggest victory to have overcome that difficult time.
Q: And the doctors did not say that there might me some uneasiness or pain sometimes?
KIEFER: No, nothing, fortunately everything is perfect.
Q: Can you think of Wimbledon after such a long time. What are your expectations?
KIEFER: I would have preferred to answer that question later, but now I lost singles. So, of course I have Wimbledon on my mind now. But now I am here and will play doubles, will try and work on some things to get back into the game as fast as possible. Next week I will play a few matches in England. Of course, it will be difficult to play a Grand Slam immediately. But physically I feel great. Iíll just have to try and play my game.
Q: For sure there were some nice moments last year. Were you ever tempted to say that a life without professional tennis might be attractive?
KIEFER: There were positive things, for sure, but Iíve been on the Tour since 95. It is the only thing I ever did. I travelled the world with my bags, from hotel to hotel, played tournaments and tried to get the best out of my body. When I was home during that 1 year ,it wasnít easy. I had to get used to a normal day-to-day life. But I managed to that quite well, however I would prefer to get used to that later than sooner.
Q: So, you canít understand someone like Kim Clijsters, who at the age of 23 said that it is too much for her and that she will quit?
KIEFER: She is a woman, wants to get married and have children. I donít have that problem (laughs).