After a month-long break from tennis, Roger Federer said Sunday in Madrid that he’s ready for the challenge of returning to the top spot in the game. Federer, who opens with the David Nalbandian-Milos Raonic winner, is just one week shy of tying Pete Sampras’s record of 286 weeks at No. 1.
“If I do win a Grand Slam, I’ll be extremely close to world number one, so I am aware of that but again, it is easier said than done,” Federer said in a pre-tournament presser. “My focus is on my next match here on Wednesday, but it is a dream for me to try to achieve that this year again and I will try to chase it as hard as I can and see if it is possible. If not it is not a problem, I will try and win tournaments, which is a thrill in itself.”
Federer is also aware of the immediate challenge of beating Rafael Nadal on his home soil. The time away from the game helped his body.
“I was playing with some lingering injuries for a few months, so I am happy that they are now gone,” Federer said. “I feel good. I am returning to clay in Rafa’s country, on a surface in which he has been dominant for so many years. My focus now is on making sure I get through here. I am happy to be here and am really excited to be playing again. This was a longer break than usual but I needed it because I had played so much.”
And Federer addressed the topic of the week: Madrid’s surface move from traditional red to blue clay courts.
“It feels a little different than regular clay,” he said. “I’m not sure if it’s just visually or something else. It has been rainy and cooler than usual, so that makes a difference too. It’s going to be interesting to see how it’s going to play when there is hot weather.”
Federer won the Madrid title in 2009 and finished runner-up in 2010. The 30-year-old is 23-3 this year with three titles.
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