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 number one, the Swiss tennis great said on Friday.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion has held back the clock in the twilight of his remarkable career and became the ATP’s oldest world number one 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.
Djokovic, who dispatched Nadal in two sets to win in Melbourne, tops the rankings from Nadal.
“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 leadup to the French Open with a tilt at a ninth Wimbledon title uppermost in his mind.
“Wimbledon obviously, also now Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami,” he said. I really would like to make a good season start, maybe that could launch the clay season and Wimbledon but I think Wimbledon yes, the US Open and after also the Laver Cup and the World Tour Finals at the end of the year.”
Federer, speaking at a launch for the Laver Cup which is being held in Geneva from Sept. 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 with John McEnroe in charge of Team World 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.
Federer is hoping Wawrinka plays. “We won the Olympic title together [in Beijing, 2008]. With a bit of luck we can be reunited again in Geneva.”
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).
Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2019