Federer gears up for Madrid Masters

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After five weeks of rest, Roger Federer returns to court in an attempt to win this week’s Madrid Masters.

14 October 2008

MADRID -- Roger Federer is back on the ATP tour after a five-week break, and he is confident he has what it takes to win this week's Madrid Masters.

The 2006 Madrid champion has not played in a tournament since winning the US Open - only stepping on a competitive court to help Switzerland return to the Davis Cup's World Group.

"I've had a good season and won the US Open so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for me to play that much, but I love the game and I love to compete," said Federer, who withdrew from last week's Stockholm Open because he needed to rest.

Federer, who has struggled this season compared to most of his amazing 237-week run as the world's top-ranked player, said Monday that he contemplated taking the rest of the season off after winning the US Open.

"Sure, anything was going to be possible," said the 13-time Grand Slam champion, who reached the Wimbledon and French Open finals but lost to Rafael Nadal both times.

At the Australian Open, Federer lost to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals before saying he had been trying to bounce back to his best after contracting mononucleosis.

Although he has recovered, he still pulled out of the tournament in Stockholm because of fatigue.

"The season was long and I just felt very tired and I felt like I still needed some rest," Federer said. "I wasn't sure how much rest was needed, but I took enough time off, started practicing again and looked how I felt, I thought I was feeling good enough to win the tournament to come here and play."

In Madrid, Federer will play Radek Stepanek on Wednesday. If he wins, he could face Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round.

"Sure it would be nice to play Tsonga, but first things first. The first round is a tough opponent, I lost to him earlier in the year," said Federer, who lost to the Czech player at the Rome Masters.

"That's where my focus lies at the moment. It gives me perfect time to rest and get ready for this tournament and hopefully I can start off with a win and see where it takes me."

Federer hadn't yet decided if he will play in the first round of the Davis Cup in 2009 when Switzerland plays the United States. He will be fighting to regain the No 1 ranking, however, after losing it to Nadal.

The top-ranked Spaniard, who opens against Ernests Gulbis of Latvia on Tuesday, only needs two victories in Madrid to clinch the season-ending No 1 ranking.

"I'm going to do everything I can to try and get No 1 back, but I think if one player deserves to be No 1 in the world at one stage of his career I believe it would be Rafael as well," he said.

[AP / Expatica]

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