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Federer at peace with age and ranking

NEW YORK, August 3, 2011 (AFP) – Roger Federer is relaxed about turning 30 on Monday, having slid to third in the world rankings and the chance that this will be the first year since 2002 in which he does not win a Grand Slam title.

The 16-time Grand Slam singles champion told reporters on a teleconference Wednesday that he still has the competitive fire to challenge Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic for tennis supremacy.

“The fire has always been there clearly,” Federer said. “I’ve always enjoyed my matches with both guys, particularly the rivalry with Rafa has been very special. I have massive fire and power to play against those guys.”

Federer has accepted the fact that Nadal and Djokovic, together the winners of the past six Grand Slam singles titles, have passed him in the rankings.

“I’m at peace with myself because of it. There’s nothing else I can do,” Federer said.

“I’m very laid back about the situation. Sure, I’d love to be World No. 1 and not No. 3. No. 3 is a good ranking. It’s not number I don’t know what. I’m at peace with that.”

Federer, whose most recent Grand Slam crown came in last year’s Australian Open, lost to Nadal in June’s French Open final after dispatching Djokovic in a semi-final, snapping the Serbian star’s 41-match unbeaten start to the season.

But at Wimbledon, Federer suffered only the third loss of his career when up by two sets, falling to Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals after winning his first 178 Grand Slam matches when leading by two sets.

“I thought Wimbledon was unfortunate, but I haven’t been thinking too much of what’s been happening. I’m more looking forward to what’s hopefully to come,” Federer said.

“Physically I’m fine. I think I have had a solid season so far. Now I feel really eager to go.”

Federer returns to action at ATP Masters Series events in Montreal and Cincinnati the next two weeks, the US Open tuneups being his first tournaments at age 30, a milestone he has already started looking beyond.

“I’m already way past this point. I’m already thinking beyond the Olympics next year. That’s kind of how my schedule goes,” Federer said.

“Birthdays happen. They’re part of life. I’m happy I’m getting older. I’d rather be 30 than 20, to be honest. To me it’s a nice time.

“In the preparation nothing changes. Do you listen to your body more? Yes you do. Are you more wise? Yes you are. Are you more experienced? Yes. Do you have 1,000 matches in your body? Yes you do. You just go with what you have.

“It’s not going to affect anything really.”

Despite Father Time claiming another set, Federer does not approach the upcoming US Open as any sort of last chance after losing the final to Juan Martin del Potro in 2009 and watching Nadal beat Djokovic in last year’s final.

“I don’t feel it’s my last chance, not at all,” Federer said. “I see many more chances to come. Maybe it’s the last Grand Slam of the season, fine. But still there are many more tournaments than just Grand Slams.

“I know I’ll be measured very often just by my Grand Slam results, which is fortunate or unfortunate depending how you look at it. My game is in a good place right now and I’m excited to see how I’m going to do at the US Open.”

Federer does not see himself as the average 30-yeear-old ATP player trying to hang on for one last day in the sun.

“I don’t want to say I’m a special case, but I’ve won so much you feel like if you put yourself in the right position, you do all the right things, you’ll definitely get a shot again of winning any big tournaments, or any tournament really for that matter,” Federer said.

“My planning is always in the long-term. That’s why I’m looking forward to see how much I can achieve from this point forward. ■

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