Returning Federer watched by 6,000 at open practice session

Roger Federer has spent over five months out of action, but the Swiss veteran remains a huge draw card, with 6,000 fans turning out just to watch him practice ahead of his comeback at the Hopman Cup.

The 17-time grand slam winner has endured a torrid 2016, competing in just seven events on the ATP Tour before a knee injury forced him to curtail his season and miss both the Olympics and the US Open.

Federer, 35, has consequently dropped down to 16th in the rankings, ending a 14-year stay in the top 10.

However, interest in the Swiss evidently remains undiminished, as a large crowd flocked to Perth Arena to watch him practice ahead of his return to competitive action next week.

"It's just good to get the first practice out of the way," he said in a question-and-answer session before leaving the court.

"You get used to the conditions, plus you guys [the fans] coming out makes it already feel like a match situation, which is going to help me even more for the Australian summer ... I'm really happy to be here.

"Ever since I took the tough decision not to go to the Olympics, the US Open, all the other tournaments this year, I took time for the leg obviously but much more time for the family and we could do some fun things.

"And then I just really got stuck into it. Practice this last six weeks has been really difficult, very challenging but I was always very positive and I enjoyed myself.

"I had a great team around me that always supported me throughout and I think the fans as well have always been there for me and they made things actually much less painful."

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