Rested Federer aims to go deep in Melbourne

Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:40am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - With a trophy cabinet straining at the hinges and a 53rd consecutive grand slam appearance looming, Roger Federer might be excused for feeling a little jaded ahead of his bid for a fifth Australian Open crown.

Not a bit of it, the 31-year-old Swiss maestro said on Saturday, having passed his motivation test during punishing practice sessions in the off-season.

Federer eschewed all warm-up tournaments for the year's first grand slam, dropping off the radar altogether in favor of a hermit-like training regime and time with his family.

The break, coming off a disappointing U.S. Open and loss of his ATP Tour Finals crown to Novak Djokovic, was seized upon as evidence his competitive fires were beginning to flicker out.

Federer admitted to some trepidation before returning to the practice courts.

"I think it's always a bit of a test for me going into the practice season," the 17-times grand slam champion told reporters at Melbourne Park.

"Am I hungry and motivated to wake up, go on the practice courts for hours?" he told reporters at Melbourne Park, before affirming it was all systems go.

"There was not one problem. For me, that was good news. I was eager to improve my game, change it up a bit from all the tournaments I played this last few years.   Continued...

Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a ball into the back of a man dressed as the cartoon character Sponge Bob Square Pants during Kids Tennis Day at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, January 12, 2013. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne