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Federer eyes sixth year-end title as Nadal returns

by Ron Atkin
Friday 18 November 2011

As he prepares to embark on the pursuit of what would be a record sixth title in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Roger Federer reiterated his love for London, the city where he has captured six Wimbledon singles Championships and where he now defends the title he won at the O2 Arena 12 months ago. 

"London is a place that makes me very comfortable," he said before he plays his opening round robin match in Group B on Sunday against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the man who knocked him out of the 2011 Championships at the quarter-final stage. "I always feel very welcome here. I think I have tremendous fan support here in England and in London particularly and I have enjoyed my times in London thoroughly.

"It is nice to see the city, not that I don't like Wimbledon. But I have stayed so many years at Wimbledon, rather than in the city, that it's a nice change for me to get to know the city a bit better. I am happy to walk around downtown a bit. There are not many places I enjoy as much as playing in London."

Federer is especially pleased that the 2012 Olympics are also to be staged in London, since it will mean two visits to Wimbledon in quick succession. "The Olympics is a big priority for me," he added. "Every Olympics has been a dream come true. Just being a part of it. Sydney [in 2000] was my first one, one of the most incredible Olympic Games, and I was twice the flag carrier for Switzerland in Athens and Beijing.

"How proud I was to represent my country and to be part of the Olympic spirit. So you can imagine what it means to me to be playing an Olympic event at Wimbledon. That is a priority for me next year."

For Rafael Nadal, who opens his O2 programme against Mardy Fish on Sunday evening, there are more immediate priorities. The first is to play himself back into form after a month's break from tennis as he pursues what would be his first-ever World Tour Finals title, followed by a Davis Cup final with Spain in Seville against Argentina. Nadal was amused by a journalist's question about whether he considers himself "the forgotten man" of the top four in the men's game.

"I have been out of competition for one month," he admitted, "but I played in the final of the last three Grand Slams and I am happy about my year. It was not perfect, but very good.

"I have two more important events, so I will try to finish the season positively," said Nadal who stressed his intention to finish 2011 healthy and then start the 2012 season in an optimistic frame of mind.

Asked how he proposed to overcome his losing streak against Novak Djokovic, Nadal replied, "I am not thinking every day about Novak, just thinking about what I need to do to be a better player. It will be difficult for him to repeat such a high level next year, so my focus is not on Djokovic but on myself."

Federer also considers that maintaining his incredible form of 2011 will be the challenge for Djokovic. "Novak has done really well for several years now but this year has been exceptional. Can he do it again? It will be difficult but I am sure he is going to give it a shot. He seems hungry and when you get to No.1 you get more appetite."

Whether Djokovic can wrestle the World Tour Finals crown away from Federer is another matter. "Forget about the rankings, this is about winning the end-of-season World title, winning it again in my case. For me, winning it for a sixth time would be amazing," Federer said.

"But the top four are all in good shape. Novak has had arm problems but I guess that's going to be ok and I have no doubt Andy Murray will be in great shape. With the rest he has had Rafa may be a touch rusty in the first match but if he gets through that he's good again. The top four are the favourites but the other four have the potential to go all the way. That's what makes it a very interesting World Tour Finals this year."

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20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...

20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."

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