Longevity the buzz word for rested Roger Federer
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A disappointing end to 2012 left Roger Federer's critics writing his tennis obituary, but the Swiss is confident he can win more grand slam titles after arriving in Melbourne refreshed and refocused following an extended break. While Federer's main rivals for a fifth Australian Open title, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, have been getting matches under their belt in Australia, the 31-year-old opted for the practice courts and family time to keep his mind and body fresh.
Federer, who is looking to add to his record 17 majors, skipped his traditional warm-up events in the Middle East and has not played a competitive tournament since losing a pulsating final to Djokovic at the ATP Tour Finals in November.
After playing only a couple of exhibition matches, Federer arrived in Melbourne last week aiming to become the first man since Andre Agassi in 1995 to win the Australian Open having not played a warm-up tournament.
For Federer, long touted as the greatest men's player of all time, the weight of history has never proved too problematic but for his critics, and some fans, there are fears that world No.1 Djokovic and U.S. Open champion Murray are now too strong.
Juan Martin del Potro also recorded wins over Federer in Basel and London at the end of the Swiss' campaign, and his stuttering end to 2012 left many believing an 18th grand slam title on Rod Laver Arena was beyond him.
After a sumptuous performance at Wimbledon in July gave him his 17th grand slam title and returned him to world number one, Federer was blown away by Murray in the Olympic final on the same Wimbledon turf, prompting American great John McEnroe to say the Swiss "looked his age".
Perhaps listening to some of the comments that he fatigues quicker led Federer to curtail his 2013 season, dropping some events to give his body longer to recuperate.