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11:40AM

Roger Federer is Raring To Go

by JAMES HENRY

CINCINNATI – A year ago, Roger Federer was tired. He had just played five matches at the Masters 1000 tournament in Canada and wasn’t sure if he was even going to compete in Cincinnati.

Fortunately, he did. He won the title, for an incredible sixth time.

In fact, Federer has never lost in a final at Cincinnati’s Western & Southern Open. He was the champion in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014.

And he’s hungry for more, especially after sitting out this year’s Canadian event.

“Now I have had plenty of time. I’m fresh and obviously eager to play,” he said. “Practice has been going very well. I’m very happy with how I’m feeling.”

Federer’s accomplishments are legendary: World No. 1 for 302 weeks, including 237 consecutive weeks; 17 Grand Slam singles titles; reaching each Grand Slam final at least five times; and reaching the Wimbledon final 10 times. 

He has won 86 ATP World Tour titles, including four this year – in Brisbane, Dubai, Istanbul and Halle.

Yet, despite all that success, he still wants to win.

“I spend a lot of time on the practice courts and in the gym, so eventually you get sick and tired of that place, so you want to get out there and play in front of people and try to play for a trophy and see if you can play either equally good in the match or even better than in practice – just to see what you’re really made of,” he said.

“For that reason, that keeps me very motivated, the balance between practice, gym and then playing the matches. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do when I was young, play matches, play on the biggest courts.”

Federer celebrated his birthday on Aug. 8. He now is 34 years old – and a better tennis player.

“I’ve practiced for another 10 years and I have 10 years more of experience,” he said. “Maybe I don’t have the confidence level that I had at 24 when I was winning 40 matches in a row, but still I feel like I hit a bigger serve, my backhand is better, my forehand’s still, I think, as good as it’s always been.”

What does he think of 20-year-old Nick Kyrgios’ derogatory comments during a match with fellow Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka at the Rogers Cup last week?

“Obviously, it’s the talk of the locker room, and everybody has their opinion. But I think we all agree that he definitely crossed a line, by a long shot. We’re not used to that kind of talk in tennis. I know in other sports it’s quite common, maybe normal, but not in our sport, really,” Federer said.

“I think it’s normal that the tour comes down hard on him and explains to him that it’s not the way forward. He’s been pushing it anyway, as it is, in the past. And I have no problem with that because I think it’s important that we have personalities and good young players coming up that show passion for the game and all that stuff.

“And I was the same when I was coming up. I was wild. I was saying things maybe, to an extent, that I shouldn’t, but never to this extent, really.”

“Clearly, it was very disappointing and not great for the sport, one that I think many players have tried to build up and make it a good image,” he added.

“We want kids to be wanting to get in to this sport because it’s a nice sport, it’s clean, it’s fair and all these things. So I don’t think there should be any room for that kind of talk.”

Serena Williams completing the calendar-year Grand Slam at the upcoming U.S. Open would shift the focus away from that controversy, Federer noted.

Having won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon so far this year, she is chasing history – something no one has accomplished in tennis since Steffi Graf in 1988.

“It would be amazing, of course. It would be great news since that’s a positive story, unlike others,” Federer said. 

“I think it’s great, what she’s been able to accomplish throughout her career, but especially now. This late, this dominant is incredible. So I wish for her that she could do it.”

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