Fatherly Federer stays a kid at heart

3 January 2016
By Nick McCarvel

There are no New Year’s Resolutions for Roger Federer – at least, not when it comes to his tennis.

“To me it’s more about family when it comes to resolutions,” he told reporters. “I want to be a good dad and be patient with my children. I want them to enjoy life and just stay kids for as long as possible.”

But perhaps there is something to be found in Federer’s fatherly approach to his game. Now 34, the defending Brisbane International champion is staying a tennis kid at heart for as long as he can, and enters 2016 as the world No.3, still much a part of the Grand Slam conversation.

A year ago in Brisbane the Swiss won his 1000th career match while capturing an 83rd title, setting up for a year that included two major finals at Wimbledon and then the US Open. It is the kind of launching pad he would like to duplicate here in just over a week’s time.

“People like to talk about this tournament as a preparation for bigger things, but I don’t really see it that way,” Federer said. “Every tournament I play is important to me. Playing in Pat Rafter Arena with the crowds here in Australia, it’s always very exciting for me. This is a tournament I want to win. The draws are tough here … I told them they make it hard for me to defend my title.”

The top seed here, Federer gets a bye into the second round.

He is slated to meet his 2014 US Open conqueror Marin Cilic, the No.3 seed, in the semifinals should their seeds hold. Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic are the other seeded semifinalists on the bottom half of the draw.

“They love their tennis here in Brisbane and I’ve been quite successful in the last couple of years,” said Federer, who lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the 2014 final. “This is a great place for me to start my year.”

Having had former world No.1 Stefan Edberg by his side the past two seasons, Federer switched gears in the off-season, bringing on former world No.3 Ivan Ljubicic as his coach.

“I know Ivan really well,” Federer said. “What I like about him is that he’s really direct. He lets you know what he thinks. He has good insight. He’s played against a lot of the players (still on tour), and he knows my game really well.”

Another player that knows Federer’s game well is Hewitt; the Aussie making his final farewell to tennis this summer.

Federer tips his proverbial cap to the former world No.1 for helping form him as a player, with the two tangling in the latter rounds of Grand Slams five times. In 27 career meetings, Federer has an 18-9 edge.

“I’ve been a big fan of his throughout and he’s been a true challenger of me throughout my career,” Federer said. “He got the better of me a lot at the beginning. I learned a lot from him, how feisty he was and how tough he was mentally and physically. He’s one of the reasons I am the player I am today because I took a different route (than him)… I learned how to work hard like him.”

Unless they clash in Melbourne, however, Hewitt’s win here two years ago will be their last meeting.

“I’ve always enjoyed the matches with him, and I’ve always enjoyed watching him,” Federer added. “He’s a true professional. I hope he does well (this summer), in Melbourne in particular.”

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