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Rediff.com  » Sports » Slam number 20 in sight but Federer plays down favourite tag

Slam number 20 in sight but Federer plays down favourite tag

January 14, 2018 16:39 IST

Australian Open defending champion Roger Federer speaks at a news conference before the Australian Open tennis tournament on Sunday

IMAGE: Australian Open defending champion Roger Federer speaks at a news conference before the Australian Open tennis tournament on Sunday. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

Just a day after being announced as the favourite to win 2018s first grand slam Australian Open, Swiss maestro Roger Federer has shocked his fans by saying that he is not 100 percent, while going into the tournament.

 

According to News.com.au, the 36-year-old tennis ace has said that his aspirations are different to last season, when he contrived a miracle win despite a supposedly horrendous draw.

He said, "This year I hope to win the first few rounds and get rolling hopefully, whereas last year I was just hoping to win. It (2017) was more of a 'let's see what happens' kind of tournament, maybe similar to what Novak Djokovic or Stan Wawrinka or others are going through this year. It's like, let's just see what happens. I'm not at 100 per cent, but you never know in a week's time what's going to be happening."

The former world number one also noted that you need to give yourself a chance even if the draw is difficult and also said that the last year's Australian Open was his the "tournament of the year" for him.

Few would bet against him becoming only the fourth tennis player to reach 20 in two weeks time, although Federer was reluctant to accept the favourite's tag.

"Yeah, it was the tournament of the year for me, no doubt about it. All the five-setters, as well. Having no expectations was so nice after all these years always having expectations, like now this year again. With age, I feel like I play down my chances just because I don't think a 36-year-old should be a favourite of a tournament, it should not be the case. That's why I see things more relaxed, you know, at a later stage of my career," explained Federer.

The 19-time grand slam winner also hinted that players like Rafael Nadal and Djokovic should be the favourites this year, despite injury worries for both rivals.

He explained, "I feel like maybe somebody like a Rafa, with the year that he's had, and Novak with the six titles he's had here, even if it's unknown how he's feeling, they could very well be the favourites, too."

"My focus, yeah, needs to be early because I have my own problems to get through my section of the draw, my game. That's my focus, not the other players really further down the line," he added.

Despite being a year older Federer has higher expectations this year and says his build-up has been 'perfect'.

He won all his four singles matches as he and Belinda Bencic helped Switzerland lift the Hopman Cup in Perth.

"It was a great preparation last year. I think it's going to be helpful again for me this year because the court plays exactly the same in Perth and here in Melbourne," he said.

Federer is bidding to win successive Australian Opens for the first time since 2006-07.

Federer opens against Slovenian Aljaz Bedene and would face Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the third round.

If Federer wins this year's tournament, he will be tied for the most Australian titles with Djokovic and Roy Emerson, who both have won six Australian Open titles.

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