WIMBLEDON

Federer not put out to grass yet

Swiss maestro Roger Federer (left), with coach Stefan Edberg in training, is not calling time on his career just yet even as he has not won a Grand Slam title since 2012. But he triumphed in Halle in the run-up to Wimbledon and feels that the partner
Swiss maestro Roger Federer (left), with coach Stefan Edberg in training, is not calling time on his career just yet even as he has not won a Grand Slam title since 2012. But he triumphed in Halle in the run-up to Wimbledon and feels that the partnership with the Swede is now paying off after working together for 18 months.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

He's in a rich vein of form as he pursues his 8th Wimbledon crown

LONDON - Roger Federer has not won a Grand Slam title since 2012, he is at that age when he keeps getting asked about his retirement plans and he is about to bid farewell to another of his contemporaries.

Rather than looking back on a tennis career that has earned him a record 17 Grand Slam titles, the 33-year-old Swiss declared on Saturday that he had never felt better coming into Wimbledon.

"It's probably been the best preparation I've ever had for Wimbledon because we have a week more on the grass," Federer said about the extended three-week grass-court swing ahead of Wimbledon, which starts today.

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"Winning Halle has given me the extra confidence I guess it's going to take me to win this title here."

Twelve months ago, his hopes of hoisting the gilded Challenge Cup for a record eighth time were dashed in a heart-breaking five-set loss to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

Rather than dwelling on what he failed to achieve as a result of that defeat, Federer was more focused on what the run to the final 12 months ago taught him.

"Last year's final... if it does something, it goes to show that I was playing well. I wasn't playing great and I (still) made the final," said the second seed, who tuned up for Wimbledon by winning his eighth title in Halle.

"I didn't expect myself to right away make the final.

"To be honest, I was still somewhat on the way back (after injury niggles in 2013)."

His relationship with his co-coach, six-time Grand Slam champion Stefan Edberg, was also in its infancy.

But, after working together for 18 months, he feels he is on the verge of reaping the rewards of that union.

"This year, I feel my game is better," said Federer, who also switched to a bigger-framed racket.

"I've gotten used to the racket. This is not the first time I'm at Wimbledon with Stefan Edberg.

"The work I've put in... I feel I could really aim for Wimbledon this year."

This year's event will also mark the final hurrah for 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, the last man to win at Wimbledon before the sport's Big Four of Federer, Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray began their dictatorship.

While Hewitt is the latest of his Grand Slam final victims to hang up their rackets, following in the footsteps of Mark Philippoussis, Marat Safin, Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi, Federer is in no hurry to join them just yet.

"I don't want to go there with my thoughts because the more I think about it, the closer I am to retirement," he said. "Clearly, I need to think about it eventually but not for the moment."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2015, with the headline 'FEDERER NOT PUT OUT TO GRASS YET'. Print Edition | Subscribe