Tennis: Never a doubt I’d be back on top, says FedererBy Jim Slater
NEW YORK – Roger Federer, who went two and a half years without a Grand Slam title before winning the record 17th major of his career last month at Wimbledon, said he never doubted he would return to the top.
In his final session with reporters ahead of Monday’s start of the US Open, the 31-year-old Swiss top seed said Saturday that he always knew he had the form to bounce back and regain the World No. 1 ranking.
“Doubts? Maybe you believe less or you believe more, but doubt, not really,” Federer said. “I knew how close I was. I was actually extremely close on many occasions to give myself chances to win Slams.
“So it was just a combination of many things that set me back at times, but I never gave up. Mentally I was always ready to do the work and willing to travel and give it a shot. At the end it all paid off. I’m extremely happy.
“People think I can win every Grand Slam that comes up and if I don’t win the US Open I will never win one again. It’s always the same story. I’m just happy I was able to get Wimbledon. It just shows what I knew, if I do play well I can win Grand Slams.”
Federer squandered two match points and lost to Novak Djokovic last year in a US Open semi-final, but has gone 56-7 in 2012 with six titles including Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells, Madrid and Cincinnati as well as Wimbledon.
“It’s not only last year’s match that made me get back to World No. 1. There have been a lot of sacrifices,” Federer said. “I took some time to assess the situation and how should I move forward.
“It has been a great last 12 months. I always did believe that if things turned for the better for me I was always going to be very near to World No. 1. I wasn’t far off.”
“You have to be patient sometimes and just keep working hard and believing that what you’re doing is the right thing as well.”
Federer enters a first-round matchup with American Donald Young confident that he can dictate the terms to any opponent, something he admits was not the case a year ago.
“I felt good last year, but probably felt that maybe at times the matches were not always in my racquet, whereas maybe this time around I feel like if I’m playing well I can dictate who’s going to win or lose,” Federer said.
“It’s going to take something special from my opponent to win.”
With Federer, Djokovic, Britain’s Andy Murray and Spain’s Rafael Nadal atop the rankings, the Swiss star who lost to Murray in the Olympic final earlier this month sees this age as among the best for men’s tennis.
“We have somewhat of a golden era right now. I feel that truly,” he said. “It’s nice to see Andy making his move at the Olympics, to see Novak having an absolutely ridiculous year last year and Rafa and myself still being around.
“But the best ever? The four of us? That’s a really difficult call.”
Nadal will miss the US Open with lingering knee problems, a decision Federer respects even though he will miss his epic rival.
“It would be better if he were here, but then again, it’s good to see him maybe giving it a chance to heal and taking tough decisions like not coming,” Federer said.
“It has been a brutal process for him, I’m sure, missing the Olympics and now this. This is significant but it has not been six months yet so it’s not the end of the world.”
“I just hope he’s taking a little rest right now and hopefully coming back strong for the end of the year.”