Federer 'fresh and motivated' for OZ Open
Federer is to complete an Aus Open hat-trick, which would take him to within one slam of Sampras' benchmark tally.sports Updated: Jan 04, 2008 14:13 IST
World No.1 Roger Federer said he was fresh and motivated ahead of this month's Australian Open as he arrived in the country Friday in pursuit of Pete Sampras' record 14 grand slam titles.
Federer, 26, is favourite to complete an Australian Open hat-trick at Melbourne Park from January 14-27, which would take him to within one slam of Sampras' benchmark tally.
"I feel fresh, I feel fit, motivated and I think that's the key," Federer told reporters. "I've been practising really hard and it's always a thrill when the year kicks off and after the Australian Open you have a lot of answers."
"If not, you can go to the practice court and go and get ready for the rest of the year."
The Swiss great said he would do everything in his power this year to improve his peerless game as chases the grand slam record, Olympic glory in Beijing and the elusive French Open.
"Honestly, in tennis you can never work hard enough because there's movement, there's forehands, backhands, slice, topspin, coming to the net ... I'd definitely like to improve my skills," he said.
Federer said he was improving his net play, after working on that aspect of his game with his former Australian coach Tony Roche.
"So that's something I'm definitely going to try to keep up," Federer said. "It gives you great opportunities as well against all the baseline players in the world today. You have an extra option. That's a good thing."
"It's not so easy because players are really passing well, so you have to be a great athlete at the net," he said.
"But I know I have those possibilities and if I could use those on clay even more often, I think it will give me a great opportunity (to win the French)."
But Federer insisted winning at Roland Garros to join Rod Laver and Andre Agassi as the only players in the professional era to complete a career grand slam was not his priority in 2008.
"I don't know if I would trade it off for the Wimbledon title, to be honest," he said. "It was so special (last year) to equal the record of five (in a row) of Bjorn Borg."
"And it's an Olympic year as well," he said. "I met (my girlfriend) Mirka here in 2000 at the Olympics in Sydney, so it always remains a special memory for me -- and carrying the flag in Athens in 2004."
"So back in 2008, I'm really excited," he said. "French Open, Olympics, Wimbledon, I've got a lot of things coming my way this year."
A winner of eight titles in 2007, including three majors and the Tennis Masters Cup, Federer will open his new season at the Kooyong Classic exhibition event in Melbourne from January 9-12.
Federer said he had come to Australia earlier to familiarise himself with the new Plexicushion courts, which have replaced the Rebound Ace courts at Melbourne Park.
"That's why I'm arriving as early as possible, getting to know the surface, getting to know the different climate again here ... getting used to the heat again," he said.
"But the surface - quick or fast - as long as it's hard court, it's okay."