11:00 PM GMT November 10, 2013
A “confident and excited” Roger Federer is ready to make a strong statement in 2014.
Following a 7-5, 6-3 defeat to rival Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday, the six-time champion reflected on his satisfying finish to a tumultuous 2013 and outlined his goals and ambitions for the year to come.
A record 10th final in Basel and impressive 11th semi-final in 12 appearances at the season finale are building blocks that the Swiss says will drive him to work harder moving forward.
“I think it was a stronger finish than I thought it was going to be in Basel, Paris and London,” Federer said. “I'm more positive now looking ahead than I would have been a few months ago where I wasn't quite sure what to expect after the US Open.”
Perhaps the most galvanising aspect of Federer’s recent form has been his ability to play pain-free after a season plagued with back issues. The 32 year old identifies his improved health as a key factor to his rejuvenated state on the court, “physically and also mentally”.
“Beating two Top 10 players is a good thing for me after not having beaten any for almost seven or eight months,” Federer added. “Considering the back issues I've had, I'm pleased that I'm pain free for a long period of time now with a lot of tennis.
“What I learned is that I can play three weeks pretty easily. I played a lot of matches as of late, a lot of three setters, a lot of tennis. From that standpoint, it’s very satisfying knowing that the body can do it, the mind can do it, life allows it to happen.”
As the 77-time titlist on the ATP World Tour looks to build on his lone crown of the season, on the grass of Halle, the Swiss will begin his 2014 campaign just three match wins behind Guillermo Vilas for third place on the all-time list.
“I think always the end of the season carries over in some way, shape or form, good or bad. Clearly you look at the whole season as a whole. But then again, it's just about hard work, about relaxing a little bit, recovering from all the inflammations you might have in your body, because those also need to disappear to start the next season as physically good as you can; mentally refreshed.”
As the Basel native embarks on his 17th season on the ATP World Tour, he has no plans of hanging up his racquet anytime soon. As Federer puts it, “[Tennis] is something that’s always there in your DNA.”
“For me, it's pretty simple: This is what I used to do as a little boy. It's almost like I started walking at the same time I started playing tennis in some ways. It's like one of those moments where you're happy out on the court, you're happy improving, happy trying to change things, adjusting now. As long as I have this choice, I'll keep on playing.”
Federer will open his 2014 season at the Brisbane International, in January, in his ever appearance at the tournament.
As for his prediction of Monday’s final at The O2 in London, Federer gave his insight: “We clearly have to wait and see how the match goes tonight [between Djokovic and Wawrinka]. Don't know if [Nadal] would be the favourite against Djokovic, but he would probably be definitely the favourite against Stan. It's an interesting night for him, and he's probably hoping that Stan's going to win.”