Age­less Fed­erer sounds con­fi­dent warn­ing on eve of Open de­fence

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - SPORT -

MEL­BOURNE: Age­less Roger Fed­erer said Sun­day he was in a con­fi­dent mood and warned his ri­vals he was “play­ing good ten­nis” as he aims for a third suc­ces­sive Aus­tralian Open ti­tle.

The Swiss mas­ter en­joyed a suc­cess­ful Hop­man Cup warm-up in Perth and knows that at even the grand old age of 37 he has a great chance of a record sev­enth Mel­bourne crown and 21st ma­jor vic­tory.

“I’m play­ing good ten­nis. I’m con­fi­dent that I think it needs a good per­for­mance by my op­po­nent prob­a­bly to beat me,” said the third seed, who opens his de­fence against Uzbek­istan’s De­nis Is­tomin in Mon­day’s night match on Rod Laver Arena.

A buoyant Fed­erer re­vealed he had en­joyed a suc­cess­ful break com­ing into the 2019 sea­son.

“Through­out my ca­reer, I’ve been very lucky that in the off­sea­sons I never had any set­backs,” he told re­porters at Mel­bourne Park.

“What I can say is the off­sea­son was great for me. I think maybe it showed a lit­tle bit at the Hop­man Cup al­ready. Again, look, I’m play­ing to­mor­row. We’ll see how it’s go­ing to be here in Mel­bourne.”

Fed­erer’s first-round op­po­nent Is­tomin caused a mas­sive up­set in Mel­bourne two years ago when he knocked out de­fend­ing cham­pion No­vak Djokovic in the sec­ond round, out­last­ing the Serb over five sets.

“I think the fo­cus re­ally is on those early rounds, es­pe­cially to­mor­row,” said Fed­erer, whose vic­tory against Marin Cilic in last year’s fi­nal was his 20th Grand Slam ti­tle.

“I know what De­nis did to No­vak. I watched ba­si­cally the en­tire game a cou­ple years ago when he beat No­vak here.

“I’ve had some tough ones against him in the past. He can play well in fast courts, and that’s what it’s go­ing to be a lit­tle bit here as well,” added the world num­ber three, who has won all six pre­vi­ous en­coun­ters against Is­tomin.

“De­pend­ing on how you match up with your op­po­nent, who is go­ing to win the big points, the mar­gins are so slim nowa­days that I’m just not think­ing too far ahead.

“I don’t think I should be­cause I think that would be a mis­take. I hope I can put my­self in con­tention as the tour­na­ment goes deeper, but we’ll see.”

Fed­erer has skipped the Euro­pean clay court sea­son in re­cent years as he tries to man­age his work­load to ex­tend a re­mark­able ca­reer, which shows no signs of slow­ing.

He said he hadn’t made a de­ci­sion on whether to play on clay this year and wasn’t sure why he had not suf­fered ma­jor in­juries like Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Mur­ray, who will re­tire this year with chronic hip pain de­spite be­ing six years younger than Fed­erer.

“I think you also need a lit­tle bit of luck. Maybe also the way I play ten­nis, maybe it’s smoother than the other guys,” said Fed­erer, renowned for his flow­ing move­ment around the court.

“It just maybe looks that way. I work ex­tremely hard in the matches as well. It just maybe doesn’t come across so much.” - AFP

Switzer­land’s Roger Fed­erer hits a re­turn dur­ing a prac­tice ses­sion ahead of the start of the Aus­tralian Open ten­nis tour­na­ment in Mel­bourne on Jan­uary 13, 2019. - AFP photo

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