Federer prepares for 2012 temperature check
On the eve of his first competitive match for the season, Roger Federer believes his ability to push through the pain barrier will stand him in good stead for a tilt at the sport’s biggest prizes throughout 2012.
In Doha for the ATP Qatar ExxonMobil Open, the Swiss champion and current world No.3 said that despite turning 31 later this year, his body could still withstand the rigours of the modern game.
“I never worry at moments like now that I won’t hold up for the entire season, because I do, I think, plan decently and well, so I manage all the expectations for myself,” he said.
“It’s also part of a good player, being able to put that aside and still play good tennis. I promise you I had a lot of pain throughout my career, and I’ve managed to play with it.”
Federer enters 2012 as one of the most in-form players on the men’s tour, concluding last year with three straight titles – including the ATP World Tour Finals in London – and a 17-match winning streak.
Although not officially recognised, that streak was put to an end in an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi last week, with the 16-time Grand Slam champion suffering comprehensive defeats at the hands of his two biggest rivals, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Yet Federer will get a chance to atone for those performances in his first round match in Doha later tonight when he takes on former top five stalwart Nikolay Davydenko. The Swiss said the match represented a tough opening hit-out.
“Even though I don’t know the level of Nikolay at the moment, knowing the potential of him as a world class player for many years makes it difficult and dangerous,” he said.
Should he get through that match, the Doha draw is loaded with several other dangerous names attempting to thwart his push for his first title of the new season.
World No.6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looms as a potential semifinal opponent, the player who booted Federer from last year’s Wimbledon Championships in the quarterfinals.
And all eyes will be on a potential final showdown between Federer and Nadal, with the Spaniard the top seed at this year’s Doha event.
While Federer easily won their last official meeting at the World Tour Finals, Nadal triumphed in all three of the pair’s matches earlier in 2011, including a 6-3, 6-2 drubbing in Miami and a four-set victory in the French Open final.
And then there was last week’s 6-1, 7-5 decision in Abu Dhabi.
But Federer said he is taking plenty of confidence from his 2011 campaign into the new season.
“It takes a little bit of adjustment, but you can definitely take confidence from the end of the year and just carry it over because you’re in a good mindset,” he said.
“You know, you just believe you’re doing the right things in the court. You’re not second-guessing yourself. Confidence is a huge part of our life sometimes as a tennis player.
“I’m ready for a good season.”
Federer’s match against Davydenko will be the third of the day on Centre Court in Doha. Play begins at 11.30 pm AEST tonight, with Tsonga opening against Tunisian Malek Jaziri before Nadal battles Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.