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Level-headed Federer chasing titles, not top ranking

By Agencies - Feb 09,2019 - Last updated at Feb 09,2019

Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg (right) of Sweden pose after a tennis session to promote the Laver Cup tennis tournament on a temporary court on the banks of Lake Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday (Reuters photo by Arnd Wiegmann)

GENEVA — Roger Federer is no longer chasing the top ranking and would rather be a contender at Grand Slams than battling Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal to be world No. 1, the Swiss tennis great said on Friday.

The 20-times Grand Slam champion has held back the clock in the twilight of his remarkable career and became the ATP’s oldest World No.1 last year a few weeks after clinching his sixth Australian Open at the age of 36. 

Federer saw his bid for a seventh title at Melbourne Park crushed last month by up-and-coming Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last 16 and having slipped to sixth in the rankings, he says his priorities have shifted. 

“For me the ranking, at 37 years old, is no longer really the priority,” he told a news conference in Geneva. 

“But the idea for me is to be in good health, to know that I can win tournaments, to know that I can beat them [Djokovic and Nadal], and after that it is a pleasure.

“As soon as you feel that you have no chance and all, then it’s a problem. Even if my ranking goes down further, it’s not a problem for me. As long as I say I can win a Grand Slam as I did two years ago with a world ranking of 17, everything is in place. I prefer to be ranked 17th than third and not win a Grand Slam or tournament.”

Federer said he plans to play the Dubai Championships in February and Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami in March before deciding which tournaments he would play in the lead-up to the French Open.

Federer, speaking at a launch for the Laver Cup which is being held in Geneva from September 20-22, hoped that compatriot Stan Wawrinka and world number one Djokovic would join him and Spaniard Nadal on the European team.

Federer, who is from Basel, said he was happy to be back in Switzerland for a few weeks, spending time with friends and family while training.

Sweden’s Bjorn Borg is captain of the Europe team at the event named after Australian tennis great Rod Laver. 

Nadal has announced he will join his perennial rival in the Laver Cup, which pits the best of Europe against a world team still to be named.

“I can’t wait. We talked about it in Melbourne, we talked about how excited he [Nadal] was and me too that we’re going to be on the same team again,” Federer said.

“We don’t know the opponents’ team quite yet, it’s a good thing Rafa is going to be on my team, and it’s on home soil for me in Switzerland, it’s indoors, I like indoors,” he said.

Tickets for the third edition of the tournament, following events in Prague and Chicago, went on sale on Friday, with the best seats at the five-session event going for a whopping 2,820 Swiss francs ($2,817.46).

Federer’s hint at his intentions to compete on clay this summer may well concern Nadal.

The Spaniard is a powerhouse on dirt, but must look after his body between now and June.

He is due to play the Acapulco Open in Mexico before heading to the United States for the Miami Open and Indian Wells.

Nadal will then prepare for the clay Grand Slam with tournaments in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

Over the years Nadal has forged his name as the King of Clay, while Swiss Maestro Federer has ruled on grass.

And the 37-year-old admits he will always have his mind first and foremost on the tournaments he knows how to win.

“But I think it will always be Wimbledon, the US Open and then the Laver Cup and the Masters at the end of the year,” he said when discussing his priorities.

“I’m preparing for Dubai [February 25 — March 2].

Yes, I continue my career, I’m motivated, I’m fine.”

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