Federer enjoyed champagne after Australian Open defeat

Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:01am EST
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By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - Roger Federer believes his early exit from the Australian Open has provided him with the silver lining of crucial extra practice time for the long season ahead -- and he even celebrated the setback with a glass of champagne.

Federer, who returns to competitive action in the Dubai Championships on Monday in his first event since the shock third-round loss in Melbourne, typically found something to be cheerful about in the January failure.

That he could put such a positive spin on his defeat by Italian journeyman Andreas Seppi -- Federer's worst performance in Melbourne since 2001 -- gives an indication of how the 17-time grand slam champion can maintain his motivation at 33.

"That night I celebrated with champagne with my team, thanking Seppi as I had got nine days extra off... some additional time for practice as well," Federer told reporters in Dubai.

"After every loss, there is a new plan. I have just gone through this process now."

The world number two will play Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny in Dubai's first round before Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic potentially await in the semi-final and final.

"It is going to be tough as I've had a long break, one of the longer ones I've had in many years but it was necessary as I played a lot of tennis in the last six to eight months," said Federer.

The father-of-four said there was too big a gap in ranking points between him and world number one Djokovic to be thinking of reclaiming top spot soon.   Continued...

Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts after missing a return against Andreas Seppi of Italy in their men's singles third round match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 23, 2015.   REUTERS/John French