The now 34-year-old Roger Federer at one of his favorite, most successful Masters events on the Calendar this week in Cincinnati. The 6-time champion slipped to No. 3 in the rankings, but he feels better than ever as he begins his brief summer hardcourt swing.
“I think I’m a better player now than when I was at 24 because I’ve practised for another 10 years and I’ve got 10 years more experience,” Federer said. “Maybe I don’t have the confidence level that I had at 24 when I was winning 40 matches in a row, but I feel like I hit a bigger serve, my backhand is better, my forehand is still as good as it’s ever been, I volley better than I have in the past. I think I’ve had to adapt to a new generation of players again.”
Ten years ago when Federer turned 24 he had just won a third straight Wimbledon and was about to win another US Open. He finished that season No. 1 with 11 titles in 12 finals with an incredible 81-4 record overall.
With the bar set so high, Federer might have to beat his three biggest rivals Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in succession to defend his crown.
“It’s a totally different preparation this year for Cincinnati than I had last year,” he said. “Last year I came in tired from five straight matches in Toronto. I arrived late and wasn’t sure if I was going to play. Thankfully I did and ended up winning here. Now I’ve had plenty of time. I’m fresh and eager to play and can’t wait for tournament to start. Practice has been going well and I’m very happy with how I’m feeling.”
Federer, who hasn’t played in over a month since his Wimbledon loss to Djokovic, opens against the winner of Pablo Cuevas and Roberto Bautista Agut.
“I’m fresh and obviously eager to play and can’t wait for the tournament to start, really,” said Federer. “Practice has been going very well. I’m very happy with how I’m feeling.”
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