Focused Federer Ready For Nitto ATP Finals
It has been a season to remember for Roger Federer, but he hasn’t forgotten: there’s one tournament left and his eyes are on the prize – and beyond.
Arriving at the Nitto ATP Finals for a record 15th time, Federer is looking to cap off his best season in nearly a decade with an eighth title of the year at the prestigious year-ending event. The Swiss superstar, who shut down his 2016 early as a result of injury, came back this season to strike gold at two Grand Slams, three ATP Masters 1000 events and, remarkably, registered a 4-0 record over legendary rival and current World No.1 Rafael Nadal.
“It’s a good achievement,” said Federer of qualifying for the season-ending tournament yet again. “Last year I couldn’t be here, so it’s nice to be able to do it again because this year I had to start farther back in the rankings. My early goal was to be maybe at the halfway point before or after Wimbledon, around 8th in the world.
“By winning the Australian Open I was pretty much in a good position throughout after that, so I was very happy how I played throughout the entire season,” he added. “I’m very happy to be here again and get a chance to compete with the best. It’s always one of the big highlights of the year playing here.”
This upcoming week in London, competition for the 36-year-old is young and hungry for success. First-time qualifiers Alexander Zverev and Jack Sock both grew up watching Federer dominate the tour and have landed alongside him in Group Boris Becker, but for Federer himself, playing against a new wave of top players is hardly novel and he is ready for the challenge they present.
“It’s special, but it’s not tougher.” said Federer, who turned pro just five months after Zverev was born. “I’m used to it by now, playing against young guys ... where I feel it is just that I cannot play 25 tournaments anymore – I mean, I can, but I don’t know what the outcome would be!”
While the focus this week is set firmly on a strong result at the Nitto ATP Finals, which also boasts familiar faces such as Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Marin Cilic, Federer has also paid mind to his off-season schedule in preparation for the 2018 season.
His extended off-season last year resulted in an ultra-fit, competition-ready Federer who blasted through draws with an improved and tactically lethal backhand drive, but is there anything special up his sleeve for the next training block?
“Not really,” said the Swiss, frankly. “I don’t have anything going on for now, just preparing for December: who to practise with almost on which days. I know when I’m going to return to practice, I know where I’m going to train ... all these things are all set.
“Then for the game itself, that’s something I’d have to discuss with Severin Luthi and Ivan Ljubicic, just moving forward what we should maybe work on,” he added. “But right now I think we’re in the focus of just finishing this season in a good way.”