Fed­erer feel­ing ‘con­fi­dent’ ahead of Aus­tralian Open ti­tle de­fence

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Roger Fed­erer has warned his ri­vals that he is feel­ing “con­fi­dent” ahead of the Aus­tralian Open as the Swiss su­per­star aims for a third suc­ces­sive ti­tle in Mel­bourne.

Fed­erer, 37, won the most re­cent of his 20 grand slams at the Aus­tralian Open last year, suc­cess­fully de­fend­ing the ti­tle he won in 2017 – which he achieved hav­ing been side­lined for the sec­ond half of the 2016 sea­son with a knee in­jury.

Prepa­ra­tions for the 2019 tour­na­ment have been seam­less, how­ever, after guid­ing Switzer­land to a de­fence of the Hop­man Cup by win­ning all of his sin­gles matches, which in­cluded thrash­ing world No 4 Alexan­der Zverev in the fi­nal.

“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 be­gins his bid for a record sev­enth Aus­tralian Open ti­tle against Uzbek­istan’s De­nis Is­tomin to­day on Rod Laver Arena.

Fed­erer, 37, re­vealed he en­joyed a suc­cess­ful break com­ing into the new sea­son, and he ar­rives in Mel­bourne ready for the year’s first grand slam.

“Through­out my ca­reer, I’ve been very lucky that in the off-sea­sons I never had any set­backs,” he said.

“What I can say is the off-sea­son 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 over five sets.

“I think the fo­cus re­ally is on those early rounds, es­pe­cially to­mor­row,” said Fed­erer, who de­feated Croa­tia’s Marin Cilic in last year’s fi­nal.

“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 Fed­erer, who has won all six 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.”

Getty

Roger Fed­erer says he is fresh and rar­ing to go as the Swiss seeks a third suc­ces­sive ti­tle at the Aus­tralian Open

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