Federer welcomes Sampras' backing; Confident on Dubai return

Pete Sampras recently said he could see Roger Federer adding to his record haul of 17 Grand Slam championships, with Wimbledon the most likely stage for another major triumph. Another victory at the All England Club would see Federer surpass Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon titles, but the Swiss also feels it is in reach.

Speaking after his first-round win at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday, Federer said, “I'm happy he's being positive about my game. I think it does say something. It counts. It gives me extra confidence to know that someone like him believes in me, is in my corner, and I can always call him up and ask him for any advice. I don't want to break his records necessarily. That's not what I'm playing for. I'm playing for myself, for my team, for my country, you name it.

“I'm happy things are going better now again this year.”

Indeed, one of the reasons Federer has enjoyed so much success at the start of 2014 - reaching the Brisbane final and the Australian Open semi-finals - is credited with his new racquet. Federer began playing with the new frame at the start of the season and is reaping the rewards.

“I did have times in the past where maybe I didn't serve so well or I struggled with my backhand, with the timing and so forth. Now, I feel like even on a bad day, I have the power on the serve, and I do hit my backhand easier. It's just important that I can do it consistently at the most important stages of the match in the biggest matches and that my forehand is clutch when I need it. I think that's really what I expect from the racquet, and so far it's been very good.”

Confidence in his body and the new racquet have also delivered to Federer a new-found freedom on the tennis court. Travelling the world with his family, Federer revealed he is enjoying his tennis more than ever.

“In the beginning it's kind of nice being the outsider,” reflected the Swiss, when asked about the pressure of playing as favourite in nearly every match he approaches. “Then it's nice being the guy everybody is sort of chasing. Now my situation is comfortable too. I feel like I am enjoying myself out on the court. I don't get too carried away or too nervous necessarily every single match. I don't get stomach cramps like I used to when I was younger. It's a bit more enjoyable now these days.”

Confident on Dubai return

“Physically I'm really fit, which is very encouraging. I must say, I'm very confident about how I'm feeling. I can run for every ball. I'm waking up in the morning with no pain. I think this is as good as I've felt in probably a year. That's good a good sign looking ahead and now I just have to stay injury free.

“It's always been an important tournament because usually when I've played well in Dubai, I've played well the rest of the year,” Federer told Dave Luddy for the DTC Radio Show. “Clearly it's not always that way, and I don't want to become crazy superstitious about it. It's a tough draw here, so there's pressure trying to win this and play well here.

“The conditions are rather quick, so it's hard to control the ball well. So when you can play good tennis here, it feels like you can play good tennis anywhere else. I've struggled in the early rounds here in previous years sometimes, but overall it's been a very successful hunting ground for me and I hope for another good run this year.”

The 32-year-old Federer is one of five Top 10 players competing in Dubai. Defending champion Novak Djokovic is looking to lift the trophy for the fifth time, while Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are also in the hunt. Seeded fourth, Federer would need to go through Djokovic to reach the final.

“It's going to be tough,” said Federer. “I think Berdych is playing really well. Jo-Willy is always very dangerous. Clearly the favourite for me is Novak. He had a great end to last year, and then had a solid start to this year. Could have won against Stan at the Australian Open and who knows, maybe gone on to win the tournament there. I see him as the favourite for this tournament, plus he's played really well here. The victor is going to go through him at this tournament.”

Date: 24th February 2014, Source: ATP


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