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Old 06-25-2012, 11:20 PM   #1755
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From The Telegraph

Wimbledon 2012: Roger Federer here to stay as the Swiss tennis master prepares to claim another grand slam

Roger Federer is 30 but intends to be around for some while yet, good news for his fans but bad news for his rivals.

By Simon Briggs, Tennis Correspondent, Wimbledon11:00PM BST 23 Jun 2012

Thinking of camping out at Wimbledon golf course in the hope of catching a glimpse of Roger Federer before he retires? It is always a pleasure to watch the great man, but there’s no need to panic. Federer says he is already planning his tournament schedule as far ahead as 2014.

This may not be welcome news for his rivals. They are used to seeing him hoover up half-a-dozen titles a year, not to mention the biggest and best endorsements. But Federer’s enduring motivation is a huge boon for tennis.

He isn’t just the greatest player of our time, he is the one with the deepest emotional attachment to the sport.

“It’s logical that I should still be motivated,” Federer told Telegraph Sport. “I am right there, I can relive incredible moments, and I can live my dream. I can play Centre Court in every single tournament, and I have more fans than I ever had.
“I know now what I can do as a player and what I can’t. It’s beautiful because you’re learning every day. And I enjoy my practice more than I ever have.

"I didn’t used to like practice, to be honest. I used to dislike fitness. Even speaking to the press was a case of ‘OK, we’ll just do it.’ But today I take enjoyment from all these little things.”

The Federer who returns to Wimbledon in search of his seventh title is a different man from the one who opened his Grand Slam account here nine years ago.

Today he takes his two-year-old twins, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, to almost every tournament he plays.

“Last here they came here on the grounds before the tournament started,” he said. “It’s big, spacious and nice, you don’t have to watch for cars. But this year it’s been tough with the weather.”

His extra responsibilities mean that he has to be “super organised”, in his words. On top of his training and his family life, he also has to fit in his role as the president of the Player Council, smoothing over the wrinkles of a highly politicised sport.

With such a list of commitments, it makes sense that Federer should prepare his schedule two years in advance. Yet this is not a new habit, designed to offset the challenges of his mature years.

He has been doing it since early in his relationship with wife Mirka, which dates back to 2000. And all that planning and preparation has underpinned a decade of almost continuous success.

“I go back to 2003, when I won here at Wimbledon and then went on to become world No 1,” said Federer, who will turn 31 in August. “My goal with my wife and my fitness coach Pierre Paganini was that we would plan in the long term. Where are we going to play, how are we going to get there?

"That’s the one thing that keeps me in a good state mentally. I’ve already planned out all of 2013, though I still have to decide on a couple of smaller tournaments. Then towards the middle of the year you start on 2014. It’s always in that kind of cycle.”

Really? All the way to 2014 already?

“Yes. I mean. who knows if I will still be playing. The body will decide eventually. But I would think so because that’s how my planning works. That what makes my life easier on a daily basis.”

Some observers spied a slight hint of weariness about Federer during the French Open, which was probably caused by the introduction of heavier and slower Babolat balls. (What a coincidence that Rafael Nadal, Babolat’s principal client, favours slow conditions).

On Saturday, though, he was positively glowing at the prospect of another crack at Wimbledon.

“I just feel that this surface helps my game a bit more,” he said. “You think ‘Man, if you’ve won here six times you can do it seven.’ That’s just logic, right? But I know how hard it is and I know I will have to raise my game to do it again.”

Tennis lovers should be reassured by Federer’s sheer enthusiasm for at least two more years of tennis. It’s true that he has not have won a Grand Slam since January 2010, when he beat Andy Murray in the Australian Open final.

But he remains one of the most recognisable figures in sport, up there with the Usain Bolts and the David Beckhams, and he will leave a huge hole when he finally retires.

Even those who support his chief rivals, Nadal and Novak Djokovic, cannot fail to appreciate what Federer has achieved.

“I think people feel that I am a genuine guy,” he said, “and that’s an advantage when I walk the streets. I mean, if people don't like you, which is absolutely possible, they just won’t say anything.

"They’re like ‘Ah, I’m with Nadal’, or ‘I’m with another guy,’ and that’s fine. But they won’t come up to you and make you feel bad about it.

“I have had a couple of people come up to me and say ‘Hi, Nadal’s gonna kick your ass next time around.’ And I’m like ‘Oh really, great, thank you.’

"That’s maybe happened to me twice over a 15-year career. So I’m just saying I think tennis fans are very cool and relaxed.”
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