Federer relaxed and ready for Dubai title tilt

Roger Federer, the top seed at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, is refreshed and ready ahead of his first ATP World Tour tournament since his Australian Open semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic last month.

"I didn't spend much time thinking about the match against Novak," admitted Federer on Sunday. "I generally thought about the first month, how it had gone. I came out of the Australian Open feeling good mentally and physically.

"There was huge hype as [Rafael] Nadal went for the 'Rafa Slam'. Novak, Andy [Murray] and Rafa played well, but the changing of the guard [in world tennis] doesn't happen over three days. Just because a top player doesn't play well, don't jump to conclusions that it's the end.

"I think I am playing well. If I wasn't, then it might be different. If I lost in Doha and early at the Australian Open, then you could ask some questions, but I had a strong end to last year and was one of the best players. I am happy with where my game is at ahead of this swing of hard-court tournaments.

The Swiss superstar, who has spent the past seven days training in Dubai, continues to plan his schedule 18 months in advance. "I have never thought of stopping.

"On vacation, I always talk about my plans and they are always one-and-a-half years ahead of time. Towards the end of vacations I get hungry again to comeback. I am already thinking of the [London 2012] Olympics and also what tournaments to play beyond that."

Federer turns 30 in August, a prospect he "can't believe. I was playing juniors not so long ago. As players, years go by as extremely quick due to the travelling and scheduling. [But] if you enjoy playing then it isn't a problem.

"The challenge for me over the past year has been to stay healthy. I have been able to accomplish that. I don't have to think about what I need to do to lead a healthy life. Now I can focus on my fitness, my tennis, practise and schedule. I pretty much have the same schedule each year and I still get excited returning to tournaments."

The World No. 2, a four-time former champion in Dubai, also confessed that he remains the same person, nearly eight years after he won his first Grand Slam championship in July 2003 at Wimbledon, despite all the fame that has come with his success.

"In the beginning, I felt uncomfortable on red carpets, wearing suits and giving acceptance speeches. But you learn to do the photo shoots and speeches. I think I've been able to stay the normal Roger that I am, but I have adjusted to the fame and status."

Date: 20.02.2011, Source: ATP


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