It’s been 10 years since Roger Federer’s last US Open in 2008. And it the longest of the four Slams he’s gone without winning, so no wonder that the event he once won five straight years has become a priority for the now 37-year-old.
“It would mean the world to me,” Federer told the media today in a special Louis Armstrong press event. “It’s even a bigger priority this year, the US Open, than it has been last year. Not that it wasn’t last year, but Wimbledon was key for me last year.”
Federer didn’t play in New York in 2016 and said last year he wasn’t at his beat healthwise in the loss to Juan Martin del Potro.
“Obviously not feeling 100% last year was hard,” Federer added. “I knew from the get go it was not going to be possible for me to win. Everything would have had to fall into place. Guys would have had to retire against me or played the worst match of their life against me, and maybe then I would have had a chance, but later stages of a tournament it’s not feasible anymore.
“So also because that fact, because the last two years especially, two years ago when I couldn’t play at all, have just been difficult. I’m really excited and happy to be back here healthy again and feeling good and, you know, take it one match at a time and see what happens.”
Federer also shed some more light on his stunning loss to Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati final, and you can tell he’s still not pleased with how he finished the tournament.
“I think I was not even close playing my absolute best in Cincinnati and still making a final is still a really good result,” Federer added. “The final was not good. I was not happy with how I played, but I think there was some tiredness that led into that. And Novak was good. So it was just a match, one you want to forget, no problem. But in the big scheme of things it actually was a good tournament for me, get all the matches under the belt, get match tough again so when I do show up here I actually feel I’m ready, and I am ready, and that’s what counts for me.”
Of course when the draw came out, Djokovic was placed in Federer’s section, so a quarterfinal rematch could be in store a week from next Wednesday.
“We have so many draws that happened throughout my career that you just take it on your chin and you’re, like, Okay, fine, that’s what it is,” Federer said.
“We can’t control it. I’m not in a quarterfinal match yet. I’m not in a second-round match yet. You just go back to — just the next few days are important. How am I feeling by my first-round match? That’s what the focus needs to be, and then the draw is what it is.
“Sure, you sometimes wonder, is it easier to play guys with not such a résumé like a Novak so early in the tournament? But because he won Cincinnati, I could have also played Novak in the fourth round if he wouldn’t have made a move in the rankings.”
And the 10 years of no titles in New York doesn’t bother Federer much.
“I don’t remember the years anymore, but the two semis with match points were tough against Novak,” Federer said. “The finals was rough here. I have won some and lost some close ones here in New York. And then, you know, some years I just lost against a better guy. And some years it just didn’t work out.
“I think there are explanations for everything, especially the last two years, and the other ones were just close, which is unfortunate, I guess. But for me it’s not puzzling. I won the US Open five times. So I stand here pretty happy, to be quite honest. It’s not like, God, the US Open never worked out for me. It hasn’t the last couple years, but it’s all good.
“I’m exactly where I want to be.”
Federer opens play on Tuesday against Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan. The two have never played.
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