All eyes are on former world No. 1 Roger Federer (Player Info) as he prepares to take part in the second-to-last Masters 1000 tournament of the season, a tournament that could see him possibly qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals if he reaches the later stages. It will not be an easy task as the Swiss legend will have to contend against a gauntlet of top competitors including potential clashes with Lleyton Hewitt, Richard Gasquet, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. While he is motivated to perform at his best to secure a qualifying spot in the year-end championships, he admits that he always intended for this to be his “quiet year.”
“I always knew that this year, after a very tough year in 2012 [and] the Olympics, was going to be a bit of a more quiet year.” said Federer. “I expected myself probably not to be as successful and as busy playing matches and tournaments,”
The 17-time Grand Slam champion certainly had one of his poorest seasons in the past decade, winning one title (Halle) and failing to contend in a single Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time since 2004, when he exited Wimbledon and the US Open in disappointing fashion. His inability to win big matches has seen him drop from the top spot in July 2012, to a low of No. 7 heading into the Shanghai Rolex Masters. While it has been a turbulent few months, Federer is still confident that it is merely a phase that will pass in due time.
“It has been a bit of a rocky patch the last couple of months but my expectations will always remain very high. That will never change.”
Since then, Federer has been training in Dubai and Switzerland for the Shanghai Masters, taking a much needed break following his fourth round exit at the US Open. The extensive trainings appeared to have payed off as the 32-year-old claims his game is returning and that he will continue to work on improving all aspects heading into the final stretch of the season.
“I think my game’s been coming back, which has been very important. Now it’s about staying positive and working hard every single day, that’s been the mindset.”
Federer believes that his situation will be quite different in 2014, as the lack of ranking points to defend in tournaments will mean less pressure and more opportunities to steal points at the optimal moments. It is a calculated step that would likely ensure a significant comeback in the upcoming season.
“My mindset now is [that] next year is going to be a great year again where I’m not going to have that many points to defend, especially at some very key moments where I consider myself a favourite. For that reason, I’m really looking forward to 2014 already.”
The Swiss legend is chasing his 22 ATP Masters 1000 title this week in Shanghai. It is also his first tournament appearance since the US Open. While his focus is on a strong finish to the season and to reach a record-seven year-end championships, Federer also understands that his health is paramount to his potential successes next year and will take all the necessary measure to ensure it.
“As long as I’m physically and mentally fine, there’s no reason for me not to be taking part in the big matches. That’s what I’m looking forward to in 2014, to be part of those matches.”