Dubai: Five-time champion Roger Federer exuded confidence about reclaiming his former glory after cruising into the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open late on Monday but insisted he did not want to get ahead of himself.
Federer, who lost in the semi-finals to Tomas Berdych last year while attempting a record sixth title in Dubai, powered past German Benjamin Becker 6-1, 6-4 to set up a meeting with the winner of the match between Radek Stepanek and Michael Russell.
The former world number one, now at an unaccustomed No.8 in the rankings, made a solid start to the season at the Australian Open in Melbourne — reaching the semi-finals before falling to his nemesis Rafael Nadal of Spain.
A third win in Dubai could set up a potential semi-final against four-time defending champion Novak Djokovic, but the Swiss maestro is not looking too far ahead. “I know there has been talks about it [semi-final against Djokovic]. I saw the draw clearly and that’s what I hope for it to happen, but honestly I don’t even know my second-round opponent,” Federer said.
“My focus right now is the next round. In a perfect world, I’d like to win the tournament, not just beat Novak but, if everything goes together, that would be wonderful. But I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself,” he added.
Last week, former world number one Pete Sampras had argued that the Swiss ace could play for another four years and add another one or two grand slams to his existing tally of 17 and Federer acknowledged the tribute. “I’m just as happy he’s being positive about my game. I would be a little bit surprised if he would be too rough on me, but at the same time I think it does say something and it counts,” he said.
“It gives me extra confidence to know that someone like him believes in me. I hope I see him in Indian Wells again and we can catch up. I don’t want to break his records necessarily. That’s not what I’m playing for. I’m playing, you know, for myself, for my team, for my country and I’m happy things are going better now again this year,” he said.