Federer set for 53rd consecutive Slam
Originally published on: 12/01/13 00:00
When Federer steps onto court to face first round opponent Benoit Paire on Tuesday, it will officially mark the start of the 31-year-old’s 53rd consecutive Grand Slam appearance. The Swiss is three major outings short of Wayne Ferreira’s record haul of 56 but with 17 titles, seven runner-up appearances and eight semi-finals, Federer is in a class of his own.
“Longevity has always been something that's been important to me,” said Federer at his pre-tournament press conference in Melbourne. “I'm excited that I've played so many [Grand Slams] in a row and I hope I can keep the streak alive and see where it stops. I've planned the season accordingly this year again. We'll see how it goes.”
Federer’s preparation for the season’s opening Grand Slam has been slightly different than in previous years with the Wimbledon champion arriving in Melbourne three days earlier than usual to practice. The world No.2 took some vacation time during the extended off-season before embarking on an exhibition tour of South America at the beginning of December.
“It's important to be fresh going into a new season because the last couple of years have been tough on tour,” he explained. “I think it's always a bit of a test for me going into the practice season. Am I hungry and motivated to wake up, go on the practice courts for hours? There was not one problem. For me, that was good news.”
Federer also admitted that he’s much more focused on the physical aspect of his game during pre-season now than he was when he first broke onto tour. “Today I take much more pleasure out of doing the gym work than I ever have,” he said. “I used to honestly not really like it at all until I was maybe 22, 24 maybe at times. Today things for me make sense. I know why I'm doing them. I know they're necessary. Sometimes it's not the thing you want to do every day of the year, but I know it's only a handful of weeks, then obviously you give everything you have.”
Federer opens his campaign against 23-year-old Paire on Tuesday. The Frenchman was one of the most improved players of 2012, jumping from world No.95 to a year-end best No.47.