"Surprised" Federer eager to exploit World No. 1 chance

It may be a surprise to him that he is in this position, but the battle for year-end No. 1 is now not far from Roger Federer’s mind as he prepares to make his 15th appearance at his hometown tournament in Basel this week.

Victory at the recent Shanghai Rolex Masters - where he defeated Gilles Simon to claim his 23rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title - put Federer within striking distance of Novak Djokovic in the race to finish year-end World No. 1.

Djokovic, who is not in action this week, leads Federer by 990 points in the ATP Race To London (the year-to-date standings), a gap that Federer could narrow to less than 500 points if he lifts the trophy at the Swiss Indoors Basel for a sixth time this week. Indeed, there is the potential for Federer to earn 3000 points in total from Basel, Paris and the ATP World Tour Finals, giving him a very real chance of pipping Djokovic to the post.

Speaking in Basel on Tuesday, Federer, who previously held the No. 1 mantle for 302 weeks, said, “It's all to play for and I hope to start off well in Basel. The fact that I've gotten so close to No. 1 is a bit of a surprise to me, because clearly I'm aware I haven't won a Slam. But I was extremely close at Wimbledon and I've been very consistent throughout, otherwise I wouldn't be in this situation.

“It's a different year end than I thought it was going to be, but it doesn't actually change a whole lot. I was always going to play the tournaments that I'm playing now and I know that if I don't win a few of them, World No. 1 is not going to happen as well.”

The 33-year-old Federer, who finished year-end World No. 1 in 2004-07 and 2009, has a 51-9 record at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament in Basel, reaching the final 10 times (5-5 record). He is looking to reclaim the trophy, having finished runner-up the past two years to Juan Martin del Potro.

“I hope after the very solid year that I've played this year, there's good tennis left in me for this tournament,” said Federer, who made his main draw debut in Basel as a 17 year old against Andre Agassi in 1998. “The pressure has changed a lot over the years. I wanted to do so well here when I was younger that... I don't want to say it consumed me, because I actually never played a poor tournament here. But now, with the experience I have, I take it as a normal tournament.

“Once I get out on the courts, it's a nice feeling being back in the arena that I know so well and where I've had so much success. But I'm not panicky about the tournament anymore like I used to be maybe 10 years ago, when it all started for me.

"I've played here so many times. I know how the court feels and that is an advantage,” said top seed Federer, who opens his campaign against Gilles Muller on Wednesday evening. “Of course, the pressure can always get to you, but I think with the experience I have these days, I walk out and I'm actually quite laidback and really excited to be back on the centre court in Basel.”

Date: 21st October 2014, Source: ATP


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