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Love match has not dimmed Federer's fire

Love means nothing in tennis, the word used as another term for no score, but for many players, the emotion of love can mean a major distraction from their focus on the court.

sports Updated: Aug 31, 2010 22:19 IST

Love means nothing in tennis, the word used as another term for no score, but for many players, the emotion of love can mean a major distraction from their focus on the court.

Don't count Roger Federer in that number.

The 29-year-old Swiss shotmaker has won a record 16 Grand Slam titles, three of them since marrying long-time sweetheart Mirka 17 months ago, and won his first Slam since becoming a father last July at this year's Australian Open.

"I have the same fire, the same drive," Federer said. "I thought it might have a little impact on my schedule - I might play less - have an impact on how I practiced, maybe early mornings so I could get back and stuff because I have to wake up early.

"Honestly, the transition was very smooth. I'm very happy about it."

World number two Federer, who will face Germany's 104th-ranked Andreas Beck in the second round of the US Open, seeks a seventh consecutive US Open final berth after his five-year reign was ended last year by Juan Martin Del Potro.

Federer met Mirka, a former WTA player, at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. They married in April of last year, Federer joking that he wanted to avoid the drop from number one that Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe had following their nuptuals.

"That's why I waited 10 years," Federer said with a smile.

Federer completed a career Grand Slam with a French Open title just weeks after his wedding, won a record 15th Slam title at Wimbledon that next July and became father of twin girls Charlene and Myla weeks later.

"I was lucky enough that the last seven or eight years, I've been every day together basically with Mirka, and that has definitely helped me," Federer said. "I feel married a long time, not just since last year, that's for sure."

Having someone who knows the demands of the tennis world as a partner in life has allowed Federer to juggle his schedule to remain tennis juggernaut and tender husband and father.

"It's so well set up," he said. "Mirka takes such great care. I'm there anyway most all the time as well that I can place my practice whenever I want. I still have enough time with them."

Federer said there was no real concern among star players about marriage taking away from tennis quality.

"Not really," he said. "In soccer guys marry and have kids much faster than in tennis. In tennis, very often financially you're never quite safe, because for a long time injury can hit. You don't have a five-year contract. Who is going to take care of you? So it's very much living day by day.

"You're young, 25, either you're working or you're going to school and we're not in one place like one place like maybe soccer players are. You have a tendency to marry later and later also in your career you start to maybe not play as well.

"I don't believe in all those statistics. That's just the way our life is. We cannot get married that early. And if we do, you're not going to see the other person maybe for over 50 percent of the year.

"It's hard to keep up a good relationship, I find."

Federer, a finalist in 22 of 27 Grand Slams through his Australian Open victory this year, is cautious about his tennis relationships as well.

Newcomer Paul Annacone has slowly joined long-time coach Severin Luthi on Team Federer during the Flushing Meadows fortnight.

"We've moved it from a test trial to integrating him into the team," Federer said.

First Published: Aug 31, 2010 22:16 IST