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Federer fit and raring to go at Kooyong

sports Updated: Jan 13, 2009 11:24 IST
Greg Stutchbury
Highlight Story

A year after withdrawing from the Kooyong Classic with a mystery virus, world number two Roger Federer returned on Tuesday and declared himself fit and ready to finalise his Australian Open preparations.

Federer was forced out of the invitational eight-man field at the Kooyong Club in suburban Melbourne last January with what later transpired to be glandular fever, an illness that affected his form for much of the first half of last year.

He lost in the semi-finals of the Australian Open to eventual champion Novak Djokovic and also ceded the number one world ranking that he had held for a record 237 weeks to Spain's Rafael Nadal last August.

A back injury in the second half of the year also restricted his performances but he still managed to win his fifth successive US Open at Flushing Meadows.

"I'm feeling really good," the 27-year-old Swiss told a news conference when asked about his health. "I was feeling quite bad here last year, which is why I couldn't play.

"It's why I'm really happy to be part of it this year. It's a great tournament and I love playing here because it is great preparation for me for the Australian Open."


Federer, who plays Spain's Carlos Moya in the second match of Wednesday's opening day, said the beauty of the Kooyong event was that players were guaranteed three competitive matches ahead of next week's Australian Open.

"Usually before a grand slam you take it easy or practice, that's all you do," the 13-times grand slam winner added.

"This is a different type of approach here, we are all lacking matches at the beginning of the season and you are looking for matches.

"If you play matches in practice it's not the same.

"You don't have linesmen, or the fans or umpires and it's a different mindset when you come out on the court here at Kooyong."

Federer's Beijing Olympics gold-medal winning doubles partner Stanislas Wawrinka will open the tournament against 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis.

Federer and Moya will then play their match before Croatia's Marin Cilic meets Spain's Fernando Verdasco while Ivan Ljubicic, who replaced the injured Marat Safin, will play Chile's Fernando Gonzalez.