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Federer not dismayed by form as he seeks seventh title

Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2011
by Ron Atkin
Wednesday 20 June 2012

Fortunately Roger Federer is not obsessed with the setting of records, otherwise he might be approaching The 2012 Championships with trepidation instead of anticipation. The Swiss is one short of Pete Sampras' mark of seven Wimbledon victories, and has remained so since triumphing for the sixth time on Centre Court in 2009.

The past two years have brought the disappointment of exits at the quarter-final stage, first to Tomas Berdych and then Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. If the fact that the genius who has collected 74 career titles has not added to his all-time record of 16 Grand Slam titles for the past 28 months (since the 2010 Australian Open) bothers him, it certainly does not show.

"I don't go through days thinking, my God, I haven't won a Grand Slam in so long," he says. "I don't get pulled down by it. Actually, I think I get motivated by it. It doesn't come in phases. I'm always been hungry for success and that's a good thing."

Federer is quick to deny that he was ever arrogant enough to feel proprietorial about Wimbledon, even when he was winning five men's titles in as many years between 2003 and 2007. But he is happy to agree that Wimbledon is, for him, very much a feel-good place in the tennis calendar. "I always just feel very good here, around the grounds, on the court. Obviously, the more you win the more confidence you get."

Federer admits that he sometimes used to underestimate opponents when he was in all-conquering form on the grass of Wimbledon. "I used to think I couldn't lose on grass, then the next thing you know, that's what happans. With the success I have had a Wimbledon I always arrive here under some pressure. But also, this is where I'm able to shift up a couple of gears because grass works to my strengths."

In August Federer will celebrate his 31st birthday but he denies that his career has now moved to the dark side of the tennis summit."I feel good about myself, about my body," he insists and the opinion of his part-time coach Paul Annacone (who for so many years was in Sampras' corner) bears this out. "Roger has the enthusiasm of a 20-year-old," says Annacone. "There is no need to motivate him. He's relentless about trying to improve. At tournaments it's like he's at a cocktail party. He's just trying to enjoy every part of them."

What helped recharge the Federer batteries in recent months was the decision to take a six-week break last September after the US Open. He stormed back to win 15 successive matches and titles in Basle, the Paris Masters and the season-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. The 2012 form has been just as impressive, with victories in Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells and Madrid, and he enters Wimbledon with a season's won-lost record of 39-6.

And if those victories have not included a Grand Slam, Roger Federer is content with his form and his health as he approaches what he says will be the peak of his career, the 2012 Wimbledon, followed by the Olympics at the same venue. "With the history I have at Wimbledon it's going to be a super-exciting time".


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