Federer: 'Being Perfect Doesn't Exist'
From his practises to simply walking around the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, he’s surrounded by fans offering well-wishes or asking for autographs. Having won this event five times (2004-2006, 2012, 2017) and in position to snatch the record he shares with Novak Djokovic by adding a sixth crown, it’s easy to understand why.
But while the 100-time ATP Tour singles champion has a celebrity status at this event, he doesn’t see himself that way.
“People always elevate superstar athletes to a status like we're superhuman, but you get to meet them and realise he's just another normal guy. It just happens that he does great in what he does,” said Federer. “Being perfect doesn't exist. Everybody has their flaws and so do I. But if I can make the game more popular, be good for fans or have them enjoy the sport more through me, then that's great.”
Federer is the fourth seed this year and is making his 18th main draw appearance at this event. Apart from undergoing knee surgery in 2016, he has remained free of major injuries for more than 20 years. Smart scheduling has played a crucial role in prolonging his career, but Federer has also made recovery efforts as much of a priority as his on-court practise sessions.
“The most important thing for any athlete is understanding your own body. Knowing what is pain and what is injury pain, what could result in an injury, being able to play through that many times…but then also knowing when to step off the gas and give yourself a break,” said Federer. “Then there’s having enough sleep, eating the right food, recovery, knowing the schedule…it all helps. At the end of the day, you need to have smart people around you who are educated in that way and you have to buy into that idea. Some of it is genetics, too, and then you still need luck.”
The Swiss star hasn’t had much chance to celebrate capturing his 100th ATP Tour title last week at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Tsitsipas). Although Federer has always been one to look ahead and will be eager to add to his ATP Tour title collection in the desert, he allowed himself the chance to assess the historic moment on the long-haul trip from Dubai to Indian Wells.
“What I like about [the 100th title] is that it gives some time to reflect on these great moments and great titles that are all important to me,” said Federer. “It’s an achievement I never thought I’d make and something I only started thinking about in the past nine months. When you get to No. 98, No. 99, you start to think it’d be a pity to retire without hitting 100. It was nice to get there on the first attempt in a final.”