Abu Dhabi: Encouraged by his superb form towards the end of the season, 16-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer is ready for another shot at the world No 1 spot currently held by Novak Djokovic.
Currently ranked No 3 behind Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Federer summed up his thoughts thus in Abu Dhabi yesterday: "The world No 1 ranking is something you always look forward to when you are ranked in the top three. I had a great finish to the season which gives me the feelings that I have come here physically better [than] in a long time.
"Last year I did not have any injury issues so it is a good thing looking ahead."
Commenting on his great finish to the season, which ended with his sixth win in the ATP World Tour finals, the Swiss ace said: "I have had a couple of tough losses, at Wimbledon especially, even in the French Open final and in the US Open semis. So for me it was just about keeping my cool, staying mentally sane and not going crazy about it.
"They were multiple tough losses, but I decided to face the facts. Okay some guys are playing better than ‘you' but I had to just be confident, work hard and it turned around at the end of the season."
Commenting on the competition getting tougher at the top, the Swiss maestro said, "First I was trying to make the breakthrough. Then I tried to remain world No 1. That's what I was trying to do when Nadal was my main rival and there were a few others.
"Novak and [Andy] Murray have also been there and this year Novak managed to put together quite an extraordinary season. I expect from Murray, Djokovic and Rafa another great season next year. I think we all did play very well this last season."
Federer said he was very excited by Swiss club Basel's win over Manchester United in the Uefa Champions League football, which earned them a place in the knockout stages.
"It was very exciting. As a junior I used to play against Basel. It was great. That it happened at home, the crowds were behind them. Manchester United is a big team. It was a great moment for our soccer clubs, for the region. Next we play Bayern Munich, which is going to be interesting as well," he said.
Commenting on his friend Tiger Woods' first win for a long time at the Chevron World Challenge earlier this month, Federer said: "I was very happy for him [Woods], to see him play well. When he won, I congratulated him. I was excited that he had found his winning ways again. It is tough sometimes. Winning so often and then not for some time.
"I am excited he is coming to play here [Abu Dhabi in January]. He knows the place well having played in Dubai and is also involved in a project there. He will sure enjoy his time here."
Federer takes on the winner of the Novak Djokovic-Gael Monfils match today. "I spend a lot of time in the UAE so it's nice to be playing at home for me. It's exciting as I get into tournament mode and I really enjoy this concept. The relaxed atmosphere means less pressure so the players get to enjoy every aspect, especially the clinics with the kids. It's a beautiful start to the season and great preparation for the year ahead.
"This tournament is building every year and is great for the region and the community. Everyone is talking about it."