Federer primed for another major fairytale

By AAP,

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    World No.2 Roger Federer says he is primed and ready to return to the scene of last year’s fairytale as he aims to defend his Australian Open crown.

    Federer was entering the unknown at this time last year after spending the previous six months on the sidelines with a knee injury.

    The 36-year-old defied his long stint on the sidelines to win the Australian Open, before adding a record eighth Wimbledon crown later that year.

    Federer will enter this year’s Australian Open as the hot favourite, especially with injury clouds still hovering over his main rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

    Three-time major winner Andy Murray (hip) and Kei Nishikori (wrist) have already pulled out.

    Federer is brimming with confidence after winning his second Hopman Cup crown for Switzerland in Perth on Saturday night.

    The 19-time grand slam winner won all four of his singles matches at the mixed-teams event, and teamed with Belinda Bencic to defeat Germany 2-1 in the final.

    “It caps off a great week as a team, but personally for me as a singles player, I played great,” Federer said.

    “Now I just have to pace myself all the way up to the tournament in Melbourne, and I’ll be ready.

    “I’m just excited going back to Melbourne where I had my fairytale run last year. It was crazy.

    “It’s great to be the defending champion. I take it the right way. I won’t put extra pressure on myself, regardless of who’s going to play, or not play.

    “For me it’s just important to be in a good mindset, well prepared, and ready to go. And I feel like I am ready.”

    Federer beat world No.4 Alexander Zverev, world No.8 Jack Sock, Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, and Russian Karen Khachanov at the Hopman Cup.

    In a boost for the tournament, Federer said he hoped to be back next summer alongside Bencic for a third straight year.

    Each of Switzerland’s ties were sellouts, helping set an overall attendance record of 106,424.

    The tournament was also a dream for Bencic, who won three of her four singles matches.

    Bencic spent five months on the sidelines last year after undergoing wrist surgery, but the world No.74 is primed for a rapid rise up the rankings in 2018 if she can stay fit.

    “I’m just so happy to be back out on the court. It’s so much better than being home and being frustrated about the injury,” Bencic said.

    “I really want to be more relaxed now. Not put too much pressure on me.

    “Because at the end of the day I play tennis because I enjoy it. I don’t play for the rankings or the money.”

    © AAP 2018

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