Federer privileged to play late at night

Roger Federer may have expended more time and energy on the court than he would have liked to on Wednesday evening against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Australian Open quarter-finals, but the 31 year old is taking greater satisfaction away from edging the 2008 runner-up in five sets, as opposed to advancing in three.

“All the straight-set matches eventually become a bit of a blur, no doubt about it; whereas the five setters stand out more,” Federer said. “I've had some great ones over the years here at the Australian Open. I love watching night session tennis. Whenever it goes deep into a match, I don't want to miss it.”

“I'm sure there's other tennis fans out there who like to see me and Jo-Willie battle it out. So I always feel it's a privilege to be playing so late at night, on a centre court, the crowd getting into it. We were really playing good tennis, so it was even more enjoyable in the process.”

Federer was pushed to five sets for the first time since his third-round match at Wimbledon last year, where he was two points away from defeat on six occasions to another Frenchman, Julien Benneteau. As fate would have it, Federer battled back to win the exciting encounter. The Swiss maestro went on to lift his 17th major trophy, and in the process, regained the Emirates ATP No. 1 ranking for 17 weeks, surpassing Pete Sampras for the all-time record.

“There's some positives to take out of a five-set match. I did play very well today, but I had moments as well where I could've done a bit better,” Federer assessed. “I toughed it out. That also gives you confidence when you have to go through those matches. The physical stamina was there, the focus was there till the very end. So it does give you a lot of confidence moving forward from here.”

In defeating Tsonga, Federer reached the semi-final stage at Melbourne Park for the 10th year in a row. Federer credits his steadiness in Australia to having faith in his off-season training regimen.

“I've always been super consistent in the beginning of the year, so I can build trust in that preparation and the process will decide whatever I want to do,” said Federer. “I know I will more likely than not play good tennis… with my ways of being able to adapt, it gives me some flexibility, which is important.”

For a place in the final, the four-time former champion with take on third-ranked Andy Murray. The Scot holds a 10-9 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but is yet to taste victory over Federer at a major tournament.

Tsonga was completely at a loss, however, when asked to explain why he could play such a close five-set match against 17-times grand slam champion Federer and yet not break the cabal of the "Big Four" in men's tennis.

"To be honest, I have no idea," he said. "You know, if you have some advice for me, I will take it because I don't know. I don't know what is the difference.

"I'm just working hard. I do my best. I mean, that's it. Maybe I'm less talented for the moment."

"In tennis, you know, you cannot lie," he added. "If they are number one, number two, number three, number four, it's because they deserve it and because they are the best players at the moment."

Date: 23rd January 2013, Source: ATP


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